Biden Says Saudi Trip to Promote Regional Integration

Photo credit: Reuters

US President Joe Biden offered a geopolitical, economic, and security rationale behind his announced trip to Saudi Arabia this week, arguing that it aims to advance important US interests while promoting regional integration.

Defending his decision, Biden wrote in an op-ed in The Washington Post, Biden emphasized that the United States has to put itself in the best possible position to outcompete China and work for greater stability in a consequential region of the world in light of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine it has to counter.

Biden wrote that a more secure and integrated Middle East is essential to global trade and the supply chains the world relies on, stressing the vital role its energy resources have in mitigating the impact on global supplies of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

That’s why, Biden stressed, such a situation requires for American engaging with countries that can shape that outcome, pointing out that Saudi Arabia is one of them.

He credited the kingdom for helping restore GCC reconciliation by agreeing to the truce in Yemen and helping stabilize oil markets with other OPEC producers.

The tension in US-Saudi relations has increased for the past year and a half, over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Riyadh’s insisting on its position on oil production.

Biden is set to arrive in Jeddah on Friday on a two-day visit, his first trip to the kingdom since he became president last year, during which he’s to meet Saudi leader King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and attend a GCC+3 summit of the Gulf Co-operation Council plus Egypt, Iraq, and Jordan.

He underscored his aim to reorient, and not rupture relations with the US strategic partner for 80 years, noting that the US-Saudi relationship is on a better footing now, and touting his larger regional approach in promoting it.

In that context, Biden highlighted regional integration as another goal of his trip, pointing out that he’ll make history by being the first sitting US president to travel from Israel to Saudi Arabia.

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