Biden defends meeting Saudis and blames Trump for problems in the Middle East

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Joe Biden has defended his planned visit to Saudi Arabia next week, arguing that the trip is necessary to ensure the national security of the country in the coming months.

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In an op-ed for the Washington Post, the president asserted that he intends to ‘reorient’ relations with the oil-rich nation with the meeting, which has been criticized by opponents of the country’s contentious human rights records.

Biden – who pledged to make the kingdom a ‘pariah’ during his campaign in 2020 – used the piece to defend the summit with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, which is slated for Friday.

The Democrat also used the piece to pan his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, for abandoning the Iran nuclear deal – a guidance signed by Iran and several world powers including the US that put limits on the Saudi rival’s nuclear programs.

Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018, arguing that the agreement failed to curtail Iran’s missile production and regional influence.

A year later, Iran – which has long been at odds with the Kingdom – began ignoring the limitations set by the agreement, creating further tension between the country and Washington.

The meeting with the oil-rich nation also comes as the US continues to struggle with rapidly raising oil and gas prices, as well as record inflation seen during Biden’s time in office.

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Joe Biden has defended his planned visit to Saudi Arabia next week, arguing that the trip is needed to ensure the national security of the country in the coming months.

Joe Biden has defended his planned visit to Saudi Arabia next week, arguing that the trip is needed to ensure the national security of the country in the coming months.

Joe Biden has defended his planned visit to Saudi Arabia next week, arguing that the trip is needed to ensure the national security of the country in the coming months.

In an op-ed for the Washington Post, the president said he intends to 'reorient' relations with the oil-rich nation with the meeting, which has been criticized by opponents of the country's contentious human rights records.

In an op-ed for the Washington Post, the president said he intends to 'reorient' relations with the oil-rich nation with the meeting, which has been criticized by opponents of the country's contentious human rights records.

In an op-ed for the Washington Post, the president said he intends to ‘reorient’ relations with the oil-rich nation with the meeting, which has been criticized by opponents of the country’s contentious human rights records.

Biden, 79, said Friday’s meeting with the King and MBS is merely his administration putting increased diplomatic and economic pressure on Iran, until the nation is ready to return to compliance with the 2015 deal.

Washington and Tehran have both said they would return to the original guidance – however, the parties have yet to come to an agreement.

The deal would help prevent a revival of Iran’s nuclear weapons program and thereby reduce the prospects for conflict between the county and its regional rivals – namely Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Biden’s trip to the region seems to be a step in the opposite direction from an agreement with Iran, with the politician seeming fine with staying on less-than-good terms with the nation, if it meant meeting with the Saudi government next week.

‘I know that there are many who disagree with my decision to travel to Saudi Arabia,’ the president wrote in the Post piece – set to publish Sunday – titled, ‘Why I’m going to Saudi Arabia.’

‘My views on human rights are clear and long-standing,’ he went on, referring to the Kingdom’s extensive record of human rights infractions, including the widely reported killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in Turkey in 2018.

The Democrat also used the piece to pan his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, for abandoning the Iran nuclear deal - a guidance signed by Iran and several world powers including the US that put limits on the Saudi rival's nuclear programs.

The Democrat also used the piece to pan his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, for abandoning the Iran nuclear deal - a guidance signed by Iran and several world powers including the US that put limits on the Saudi rival's nuclear programs.

The Democrat also used the piece to pan his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, for abandoning the Iran nuclear deal – a guidance signed by Iran and several world powers including the US that put limits on the Saudi rival’s nuclear programs.

The president asserted: ‘Fundamental freedoms are always on the agenda when I travel abroad, as they will be during this trip, just as they will be in Israel and the West Bank.

“As president, it is my job to keep our country strong and secure,” he continued, outlining the political context of the upcoming meeting.

“We have to counter Russia’s aggression, put ourselves in the best possible position to outcompete China, and work for greater stability in a consequential region of the world,” he wrote.

‘To do these things, we have to engage directly with countries that can impact those outcomes,’ Biden said, before adding ‘Saudi Arabia is one of them.’

‘When I met with Saudi leaders on Friday,’ he wrote, ‘my aim will be to strengthen a strategic partnership going forward that’s based on mutual interests and responsibilities, while also holding true to fundamental American values.’

President Joe Biden is due to visit Israel and Saudi Arabia next week

President Joe Biden is due to visit Israel and Saudi Arabia next week

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Biden will visit Saudi Arabia next week. He has privately chafed at plans to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, accused by US intelligence agencies of ordering the assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Biden said he will be focused on creating a more integrated and stable Middle East with the planned tour, calling the region ‘essential to global trade and the supply chains we rely on.’

He also conceded how critical Middle East energy supplies are in light of his administration’s sanctions on Russia, another major oil producer, following its invasion of Ukraine.

‘A region that’s coming together through diplomacy and cooperation – rather than coming apart through conflict – is less likely to give rise to violent extremism that threatens our homeland or new wars that could place new burdens on US military forces and their families,’ the president reasoned.

Biden said the meeting with MBS - the country's de facto leader - is merely his administration putting increased diplomatic and economic pressure on Iran, until the nation is ready to return to compliance with the 2015 deal.

Biden said the meeting with MBS - the country's de facto leader - is merely his administration putting increased diplomatic and economic pressure on Iran, until the nation is ready to return to compliance with the 2015 deal.

Biden said the meeting with MBS – the country’s de facto leader – is merely his administration putting increased diplomatic and economic pressure on Iran, until the nation is ready to return to compliance with the 2015 deal.

Biden will be the first US president to fly from Israel to Saudi Arabia this week, when he visits the region Wednesday.

In the Post piece, Biden called the ‘small symbol’ of the warming ties between Israel and the rest of the Middle East, which he labeled as ‘steps towards normalization.’

The trip comes as gas prices in the United States continue to rise, a key domestic issue Biden hopes to tackle going into November’s midterm election.

Last month, the national average for a gallon of gas reached $5 for the first time in American history.

Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest producer of oil, and as a key member of OPEC plays a large part in setting oil prices worldwide.

The White House announced the trip after Saudi Arabia this month helped nudge OPEC+ to ramp up oil production by 648,000 barrels per day in July and August.

At the time, the White House put out a statement thanking the kingdom, a move that was seen as a step towards trying to thaw the icy relations between Washington DC and Riyadh.

Biden also praised the kingdom for agreeing to extend a United Nations-mediated cease-fire in its seven-year war with Yemen. The president called the decision ‘courageous.’

The White House has said Biden feels that the crown prince is a 'pariah' for his role in the killing of a political opponent, Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in 2018

The White House has said Biden feels that the crown prince is a 'pariah' for his role in the killing of a political opponent, Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in 2018

The White House has said Biden feels that the crown prince is a ‘pariah’ for his role in the killing of a political opponent, Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in 2018

The president is visiting at the invitation of King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, MBS’ father.

The White House has emphasized that King Salman is the ruler of the kingdom. Biden is said to see the king as his equivalent, not the crown prince.

She said Biden will discuss the UN-mediated truce in Yemen, economic security, deterring threats from Iran, advancing human rights, and ensuring global energy and food security.

The White House has downplayed the meeting with MBS, saying the president will meet with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and that the crown prince will be a part of that.

‘Yes, we can expect the president to see the Crown Prince as well,’ White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia, in its statement on the trip, said Biden and MBS would meet.

“The crown prince and President Biden will hold official talks that will focus on various areas of bilateral cooperation and joint efforts to address regional and global challenges,” the statement said.

But White House deputy spokesman John Kirby said Biden will meet with the King and the meeting with MBS will be a part of that.

He is going to meet bilaterally with King Salman and King Salman’s team and the crown prince is part of that team. I suspect he’ll see the crown prince in the context of the meetings. He’s grateful for the king’s willingness to host the GCC plus three. He’s looking forward to, again, a wide scope of discussions,’ he said earlier this week.

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