The move came just before Biden took flight as the first American leader to travel directly from Israel to the Saudi kingdom, and could be seen as a step toward normalizing relations between the two countries, a relationship the administration is working to promote. “deepen and expand.”
While domestic troubles have weighed on Biden’s presidency, he has scored multiple victories abroad this year, playing a vital role in bringing democracies together amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine. The president’s trip to the Middle East is his next big foreign policy test as he juggles challenges ranging from political instability to issues of human rights, energy supply and regional security.
After visiting Israel and then the West Bank this week to meet with Palestinian leaders, the next leg of Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia will include a Gulf Cooperation Council summit with leaders from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain. , Qatar, Iraq, Jordan and Egypt.
The White House also confirmed Thursday that Biden would meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman without King Salman in the room. The president has faced pushback ahead of this potential meeting, as human rights advocates sound the alarm that his trip could be seen as a way to rid the country of its human rights abuses, including the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
“I always bring up human rights, but my position on Khashoggi has been very clear, if someone doesn’t understand him in Saudi Arabia or elsewhere, he hasn’t been with me for a while,” Biden told reporters in Jerusalem this week. , without committing to raise Khashoggi’s death with the crown prince.