US President Joe Biden will discuss regional missile and defense capabilities on Saturday when he meets Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia, where he will seek to integrate Israel as part of a new axis largely driven by shared concerns about Iran, a senior official said. employee of the administration.
“We believe that there is great benefit in engaging as many of the capabilities as possible in this region, and certainly Israel has significant air and missile defense capabilities, as they need.”
But we are having these bilateral discussions with these nations,” the administration official told reporters.
Biden, on his first visit to the Middle East as president, focused on a planned summit with six Gulf states and Egypt, Jordan and Iraq, while playing down a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
This meeting drew criticism in the United States for human rights violations.
Biden had vowed to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” on the world stage over the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents, but ultimately decided that US interests demanded a realignment, not a rupture, in relations with the most the world’s largest oil exporter and Arab powerhouse.
The US leader said he raised the issue of Khashoggi’s killing at the start of his meeting with the Saudi crown prince on Friday and that silence on the human rights issue was “inconsistent with who we are and who I am”.
The crown prince told Biden that Saudi Arabia acted to prevent mistakes like Khashoggi’s killing from happening again, but that the United States had made similar mistakes, including in Iraq, a Saudi official said.
The official, in a statement sent to Reuters on Friday’s conversation between the two leaders, said the de facto ruler of the kingdom said that trying to force certain values on other countries could backfire.
Prince Mohammed also raised the issue of the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akle during an Israeli attack in the West Bank and mentioned the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
Biden needs the help of OPEC giant Saudi Arabia at a time of high crude prices and other problems related to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and as he promotes efforts to end the war in Yemen, where a temporary truce is in effect. Washington also wants to limit Iran’s influence in the region and China’s global influence.
The administration official said the United States hopes to see an increase in OPEC production in the coming weeks. Biden is expected to pressure other Gulf producers to pump more oil.
The OPEC+ alliance, which includes Russia, will meet next on August 3.