President Joe Byden arrives in Saudi Arabia on Friday to Prince Mohammed bin Salman Fist bump Then, after Biden, a candidate at the time, promised to make the kingdom a “Paria” on the world stage, he shook hands with King Salman.
Whitehouse spokesman Carine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Friday that the flight was “a decision to include a flight to and from Israel, a memorial to open Saudi airspace to all civilian airlines without discrimination. I followed the decision. “
Energy and security benefits have led Byden and his aides to decide not to isolate the Gulf Oil giant, who is strengthening relations between Russia and China. Byden, who said he would discuss human rights during his visit, met Prince Khalid Al Faisal, Governor of Mecca, including the Red Sea city of Jedda.
When the opening statement was completed, several American reporters, including NBC’s Peter Alexander, screamed questions about the death of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. “Apologize to his family?” One shouted to the prince. “Is Saudi Arabia still a Paria?” Another asked. Bin Salman did not respond as the reporter was led from the room.
? | HRH Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman receives #we President of Arsalam Palace # Jeddah.. pic.twitter.com/oVy7igzDWw
— Ministry of Foreign Affairs ?? (@KSAmofaEN) July 15, 2022
Byden wants to discuss energy security with the leaders of Gulf oil producers and see further action by OPEC + to increase production, but bilateral announcements from the negotiations are unlikely. Jake Sullivan, a national security adviser, told reporters on his way to Jedda.
“We believe that further action taken to ensure that we have enough energy to protect the health of the world economy will take place in the context of OPEC +,” Sullivan said. “We look forward to seeing additional action from OPEC + in the coming weeks.”
Sullivan added that Biden would talk about “energy security” with the leaders of the kingdom.
“The president will talk about it when he is in Europe, when he is in Asia, and he will certainly talk here in the Middle East and here in Saudi Arabia,” Sullivan said.
Prior to his visit to Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom announced that it would open airspace to all airlines, including flights to and from Israel. Biden visited Israel and the Palestinian region this week as part of a broader trip to the Middle East.
“The Saudi Arabian leadership welcomes and praises the historic decision to open Saudi airspace to all commercial airlines without discrimination,” the White House said.
“This decision paves the way for the security and prosperity of the United States and its people, and the more integrated, stable and safe Middle East region that is essential to the security and prosperity of Israel,” the statement continued.
Reuters contributed to this report.