The discussions and agreements were focused on regional security and technology, energy and environment. Many believe this was the main topic of the US president’s visit after oil shortages and high prices due to Russia’s war against Ukraine. Dmitriy Sharpiro, JNS.
Joe Biden spoke out about Friday’s major announcements, which many believe can lead to normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel.
After meeting with Saudi leaders, he stated that “thanks to many months’ worth of quiet diplomacy by staff, we’ve achieved some significant business today.” As you all saw, the Saudis have opened their airspace to civilian aircraft. This is a huge deal. It’s big, not only symbolically, but also substantively.
This development allows Israeli civil aircraft to cross Saudi Airspace for the first time ever. It also allows Muslims to travel from Israel into Mecca.
He said, “This is the first tangible steps on the path and I hope that there will be a wider normalization of relations.”
Biden also announced a deal regarding the status of Tiran and Sanafir islands . These two islands, which were previously administered by Egypt, are located in the straits connecting the Gulf of Aqaba to the Red Sea. Egypt and Israel reached an agreement to allow Israeli ships to pass through the Straits, which is Israel’s only route from Eilat to the Red Sea. Saudi Arabia officially agreed to keep Egypt’s obligations vis-a-vis Israel. For the first time since the Camp David Accords 40 year ago, international peacekeepers including American troops will leave the island.
Biden recalled the five American soldiers who were killed on the island in 2020 and said, “We reached a historic agreement to transform an area at the heart the Middle East wars into a place of peace.” It is important to remember them now. This breakthrough has allowed the island to be opened to tourism and economic growth. However, all security arrangements have been maintained and all navigation rights are still open to all parties.
Biden also cited an agreement between Saudi Arabia and the United States to cooperate to extend the three month-old ceasefire in Yemen. This agreement is set to expire at the beginning August. The United States will continue diplomatic negotiations for a larger agreement. Biden stated that the Saudi leaders are committed to continuing humanitarian and food aid delivery to Yemeni civilians.
Other issues of discussion and agreements were focused on regional security and technology, energy, and environment. Many believe this was the main topic of Biden’s visit after the oil shortages and high prices caused by Russia’s war against Ukraine.
The American president stated that he was doing everything possible to increase supply to the United States of America. “The Saudis share this urgency and based upon our discussions today, we expect to see further steps in coming weeks.”
“I’ll always stand for our values”
Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia was controversial. He appeared to be friendly with Saudi Arabia after being highly critical of their human-rights record. This is following an accusation by American intelligence agencies, that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi leader, had personally called for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.
Biden stated, “With regard to the murder Khashoggi, it was raised at the top of our meeting. Making it clear what my thoughts were at that time and now.” “I was direct and straightforward in discussing it. My view was clear. It was inconsistent with who we are as well as who I am to allow an American president not to speak on a human rights issue. I will always defend our values.”
When reporters asked Biden what he thought about Khashoggi’s comments, Biden responded that bin Salman claimed he wasn’t personally responsible and that he had taken action against those who were.
Biden arrived in Jeddah on Friday, March 23, at 5:53 pm at King Abdulaziz International Airport. The ceremony in Israel was much more elaborate. On the tarmac, Prince Khalid bin Faisal Al Saud was the governor of Makkah, while Princess Reema Bint Bandar bin Sultan al Saud (Saudi Arabia’s ambassador in the United States), greeted him. However, no heads of states were present. Biden and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken climbed into the presidential limousine before he drove off.
The motorcade reached Al Salam Royal Palace where bin Salman met them and they exchanged fists.
Bin Salman, King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud (custodian of The Two Holy Mosques), and Minister of State Musaed bin Muhammad Al-Aiban (member of the Council of Ministers) were present at the bilateral meeting.
Blinken and Jake Sullivan, U.S. National Security Advisor, were also present at the meeting.
Biden will meet leaders from nine other countries on Saturday for the Gulf Cooperation Council plus three (GCC+3) conference. One of the topics will be finalizing an accord to connect Iraq’s electric grid to the GCC grids through Kuwait or Saudi Arabia. This, he stated, will “deepen Iraq’s integration into the region” as well as reduce its dependence upon Iran.
This article is shared: