NATIONAL NEWS

Biden to visit Israel and ‘pariah’ Saudi Arabia next month

Jun 14, 2022, 7:04 AM | Updated: Jun 25, 2022, 8:54 pm

President Joe Biden delivers remarks aboard the Battleship USS Iowa Museum at the Port of Los Angel...

President Joe Biden delivers remarks aboard the Battleship USS Iowa Museum at the Port of Los Angeles on June 10, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. Biden is in the Los Angeles area while taking part in the IX Summit of the Americas. Leaders from North, Central and South America traveled to Los Angeles for the summit to discuss issues such as trade and migration. The United States is hosting the summit for the first time since 1994, when it took place in Miami. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will make his first trip to the Middle East next month with visits to Israel, the occupied West Bank and Saudi Arabia, the White House announced Tuesday.

The decision to pay a call on Saudi leaders during the July 13-16 trip comes after Biden as a Democratic presidential candidate branded the kingdom a “pariah” because of its human rights record and pledged to recalibrate the U.S.-Saudi relationship.

Biden plans to meet with the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of the kingdom, according to a senior administration official who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity. U.S. intelligence officials determined Prince Mohammed likely ordered the brutal 2018 killing of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi. After Biden took office, his administration made clear the president would avoid direct engagement with the crown prince and instead focus his engagements with King Salman.

Human rights advocates and some Democratic allies cautioned Biden about visiting the oil-rich kingdom, saying such a visit without first getting human rights commitments would send a message to Saudi leaders that there are no consequences for egregious rights violations. The Saudis have been accused of using mass arrests, executions and violence to squelch dissent.

But at a time of skyrocketing prices at the gas pump, growing worries about Iran’s nuclear program and perpetual concern that China is expanding its global footprint, Biden and his national security team have determined that freezing out the Saudis, particularly the crown prince, is simply not in the U.S. interest.

The Saudi Embassy in Washington said Biden would meet with both King Salman and Prince Mohammed and described the visit as coming at King Salman’s invitation “to strengthen the historical bilateral relations and the distinguished strategic partnership between” the two countries.

“The kingdom of Saudi Arabia looks forward to welcoming President Biden and defining the next chapters of our partnership,” the Saudi Embassy said in a statement. “At a time of global challenges related to the global economy, health, climate and international conflict, the partnership between our two countries is as critical as ever to the promotion of peace, prosperity and stability around the world.”

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, and the kingdom agreed to extend a United Nations-mediated cease-fire in its seven-year war with Yemen. Biden called the Saudi cease-fire decision “courageous.” Prince Mohammed, who is commonly referred to by his initials, MBS, played a “critical role” in brokering an extension of the cease-fire, according to the administration official.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in a statement announcing the Middle East trip said King Salman invited Biden to visit the kingdom during a gathering in the port city of Jeddah of the six Gulf Cooperation Council nations — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — as well as Egypt, Iraq and Jordan.

“While in Saudi Arabia, the President will also discuss a range of bilateral, regional, and global issues with his counterparts. These include support to the UN-mediated truce in Yemen, which has led to the most peaceful period there since war began seven years ago,” Jean-Pierre said. “He will also discuss means for expanding regional economic and security cooperation, including new and promising infrastructure and climate initiatives, as well as deterring threats from Iran, advancing human rights, and ensuring global energy and food security.”

Biden’s first stop during the Middle East swing will be in Israel for a long-planned visit with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Jerusalem. He will then meet with Palestinian Authority leaders, including Mahmoud Abbas, in the West Bank. Biden will cap the whirlwind trip with the visit to Jeddah for the meeting of GCC leaders and talks with King Salman, the crown prince and other Saudi officials.

The trip to Israel comes at a fraught time for Bennett’s fragile coalition, as he tries to avert another election and the potential return to power of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and as Iran’s nuclear program continues advancing.

Biden’s time in Israel coincides with the Maccabiah Games, a sporting competition that brings together thousands of Jewish and Israeli athletes from around the globe. Biden, who visited Israel for the first time as a young senator nearly 50 years ago, is also expected to meet with athletes taking part in the games.

Israeli officials in their engagement with the Biden administration have pressed their point of view that U.S. relations with Arab capitals, including Riyadh, are critical to Israel’s security and overall stability in the region. The visit could also provide an opportunity to kick off talks for what the administration sees as a longer-term project of normalizing Israeli-Saudi relations.

Facing questions earlier this month about a potential visit to Saudi Arabia, Biden stressed that the relationship had multiple facets that impact U.S. and Middle East security.

“Look, I’m not going to change my view on human rights,” Biden said. “But as president of the United States, my job is to bring peace if I can, peace if I can. And that’s what I’m going to try to do.”

KSL 5 TV Live

National News

Cave filled with clear water...

CNN

You know the most visited, but here are the least visited US national parks in 2023

There are no roads and no trails in America’s least-visited national park. Just vast wilderness. Alaska’s Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve, located 200 miles (322 kilometers) north of Fairbanks, stretches over 8.4 million acres.

8 hours ago

Taylor Swift is pictured at the Chiefs-Dolphins playoff game in Kansas City in January. (Ed Zurga, ...

Alli Rosenbloom, CNN

Taylor Swift baked ‘homemade Pop-Tarts’ for Travis Kelce’s teammates, says coach Andy Reid

Thanks to her well-known love of baking, Taylor Swift won over her boyfriend Travis Kelce’s Kansas City Chiefs teammates the old-fashioned way: by baking them “homemade Pop-Tarts,” according to the team’s coach Andy Reid.

9 hours ago

The lowest single-day price for Animal Kingdom has gone up by $10 for 2025 tickets. (AaronP/Bauer-G...

Marnie Hunter, CNN

Walt Disney World has raised ticket prices for 2025

Walt Disney World has put 2025 tickets on sale, and prices for many tickets have gone up from 2024 pricing.

10 hours ago

FILE - A solar farm sits in Mona, Utah, on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. The House voted Friday, April 28,...

Sophie Austin, Associated Press/Report for America

Biden administration taps $366M to fund clean energy for Native American tribes and rural areas

The federal government will fund 17 projects across the U.S. to expand access to renewable energy on Native American reservations and in other rural areas, the Biden administration announced on Tuesday.

11 hours ago

Police in the Caribbean are investigating the disappearance of an American couple after escaped inm...

Polo Sandoval, Elizabeth Wolfe and Sahar Akbarzai, CNN

Missing American couple allegedly hijacked on yacht in Grenada were likely thrown overboard, police say

The American couple allegedly hijacked by escaped prisoners while on their yacht in Grenada last week were likely thrown overboard, police said.

12 hours ago

FILE - The Toyota Motor Corp. logo is seen, May 11, 2022, at a dealer in Tokyo. In a statement issu...

Associated Press

Toyota recalling 381,000 Tacoma pickups because parts can fall off rear axles, increasing crash risk

Toyota is recalling about 381,000 Tacoma midsize pickup trucks in the U.S. because a part can separate from the rear axle, increasing the risk of a crash.

12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Biden to visit Israel and ‘pariah’ Saudi Arabia next month