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Biden reaffirms US commitment to Middle East in meeting with Arab leaders

president Joe Biden tried to reassert leadership this Saturday (16). United States in the Middle East as he met with the region’s top leaders, pledging that his government would remain engaged amid fears that China and Russia would quickly fill the leadership vacuum.

The president said that the American leadership in this field Middle East will focus on using diplomacy to strengthen alliances and build coalitions, and that US goals will remain “focused, realistic and achievable.”

His speech came nearly a year after the United States withdrew all military troops Afghanistan and ended the 20-year war in the country.

He noted that his visit to the Middle East was the first time since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that a US president has visited the region without US troops fighting in the region, although US forces continue to conduct operations in the region. Syria.

Since taking office, Biden’s foreign policy has largely been aimed at countering the country’s growing geopolitical influence. China and Russia’s war in Ukrainewhich has raised questions about the extent of the president’s commitment to Middle East engagement.

But at a summit in Jeddah on Saturday, the president sought to reassure other Middle East leaders and the rest of the world that the United States still considers the region important to its foreign policy goals.

“Let me be clear that the United States will continue to be an active and engaged partner in the Middle East,” Biden said at a summit of key leaders on the final day of his move to the Middle East.

The president said: “As the world becomes more competitive and the challenges we face become more complex, it becomes clearer to me how closely our interests are intertwined with the success of the Middle East. We are not going to step aside and leave a vacuum for China, Russia or Iran to fill.”

The President announced $1 billion in aid for food security in the Middle East and North Africa on Saturday. The president also announced that Gulf Arab leaders are pledging more than $3 billion over the next two years for infrastructure and projects aligned with global investment.

Biden said the United States would focus on supporting countries that are “committed to the rules-based international order,” including helping those countries defend themselves against external threats.

He thanked the leaders present at the UN General Assembly for voting to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and called it a “watershed” that showed the region’s “core values”.

He spoke of the importance of protecting “freedom of navigation” through Middle East waterways, which allows the free flow of trade and resources in the region. Biden said the U.S. has created a new naval task force to work with Middle Eastern countries to help protect the Red Sea.

Also on Saturday, Biden said the United States would “work to reduce tensions, de-escalate and end conflicts whenever possible.”

He pointed to the ceasefire in Yemen, his first national ceasefire in six years, as an example of successful diplomacy. He again vowed never to allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.

The president also addressed human rights as he sat next to Saudi Arabia’s crown prince. Mohammed bin Salmannaming the values ​​fixed in the letter United Nations “it is fundamental to who we are as Americans.”

“I’ve received a lot of criticism over the years. It’s not fun. But the ability to speak openly, to exchange ideas freely, is what unlocks innovation,” Biden said.

Biden held several bilateral meetings with the leaders of Iraq, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates and attended the GCC+3 summit on Saturday.

The GCC+ 3 is formed by the Gulf Cooperation Council, an alliance of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman, plus Egypt, Iraq and Jordan. After finishing the meetings, he left Saudi Arabia for Washington.

Large parts of the region have been embroiled in economic turmoil in recent years, exacerbated by the pandemic. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Moscow’s massive export of Ukrainian wheat have also brought much of the Middle East and North Africa to the brink of widespread food insecurity.

Joe Biden visited Jeddah to seek solutions to one of his main political problems at home: rising prices. Gasoline — as diplomacy with Saudi Arabia in the Middle East was seen as one of the few avenues he could pursue to lower the prices that weigh on millions of Americans.

But White House officials say the president will not return to Washington on Saturday with an apparent increase in oil output. It is expected that there will be increases in the coming months in the context of increased production levels in the cartel. OPEC+ at the approved assembly in August.

In his speech at the summit, bin Salman said concerted international efforts were needed to revive the global economy and that “unrealistic energy policies” would lead to “unprecedented inflation”.

Adopting unrealistic emission reduction policies that exclude major energy sources without considering the impact of these policies on the social and economic pillars of sustainable development and global supply chains will lead to unprecedented inflation in the coming years. rising unemployment and worsening social and security problems, including poverty, hunger, rising crime, extremism and terrorism,” the crown prince said.

They carefully followed Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia. On Friday, the president announced several new areas of cooperation aimed at reshaping US-Saudi relations, but it was his interaction with the Saudi crown prince that drew the most attention.

Last year, the United States declassified an intelligence report that concluded that bin Salman approved the killing of Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Despite once vowing to “write off” Saudi Arabia from the world stage, Biden punched the crown prince as he greeted him before his meetings in Jeddah. Democratic colleagues and others criticized the gesture as too friendly and said it sent the wrong message.

Biden later told reporters that he had raised Khashoggi’s murder directly with bin Salman and said he believed the crown prince was to blame.

He was met with a backlash from Saudi Arabia, according to a source familiar with the matter. The crown prince, the de facto ruler of the kingdom, told Biden that any attempt to impose values ​​on another country is seen as counterproductive to the relationship.

Bin Salman further noted that there have been incidents, including the abuse of prisoners by the US military at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison, that have reflected badly on the United States.

The recent killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in the West Bank and the US response, which drew criticism from Abu Akleh’s family, were also mentioned by the Saudi side, the source said.

Senior government officials on Saturday defended the trip as an opportunity to raise concerns about the kingdom’s rights with the Saudi crown prince.

It would be “a setback if the president didn’t come to the region, and it would be a setback if he didn’t come and be willing to sit down and raise human rights issues with foreign world leaders,” one official said. .

Asked on Saturday about the possibility of a normalization deal expected between Saudi Arabia and Israel, the official said it would “take some time.”

For months, the Biden administration has sought to formalize economic and security agreements between Saudi Arabia and Israel in an effort to lay the groundwork for a normalization of relations between the two countries.

Riyadh is believed to have a secret relationship with Israelhowever, he has not yet officially revealed those diplomatic ties.

In 2020, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly flew to Saudi Arabia for a secret meeting with the kingdom’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a claim denied by a senior Riyadh diplomat.

A possible normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia was hailed as the “jewel in the crown” of agreements between the Jewish state and the Arab world. The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan normalized relations with Israel in 2020 as part of a wave of deals as former President Donald Trump’s term ends.

This content was originally created in English.

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