Back from Europe, Biden turns to diplomatically delicate Saudi Arabia trip



By Steve Holland and Matt Spetalnick

WASHINGTON, July 5 (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden turns his attention this month to a sensitive trip to the Middle East that will test his ability to reset relations with Saudi Arabia's powerful crown prince after Biden denounced him as a pariah.

So far, Biden has been pointedly unclear on whether he will have face-to-face talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi de facto leader who the U.S. intelligence community concluded was behind the 2018 murder of Washington Post journalist and political opponent Jamal Khashoggi.

While Biden is expected to meet Saudi King Salman and the crown prince while there, Biden says his visit to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, is about participating in a summit of Gulf nations, not about meeting the crown prince.

"It’s in Saudi Arabia, but it's not about Saudi Arabia," Biden said. "And so there's no commitment that is being made or -- I'm not even sure; I guess I will see the king and the crown prince, but that's -- that's not the meeting I'm going to. They'll be part of a much larger meeting," he told reporters at the NATO summit in Madrid last Thursday.

Biden's dancing around on the issue has led to some consternation among Saudi officials who back the crown prince and see the president's comments as insulting, said a source familiar with the dynamics.

"Every time he says 'I’m not meeting with him' it causes problems," the source said. "You can't ask them for a favor and keep denying you’re even meeting with them."

Biden had denounced bin Salman, known by the initials MbS, as a "pariah" over the Khashoggi death and declared early in his presidency that he would focus U.S. relations on King Salman, not his son.

But facing a host of other problems related to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Biden was persuaded by aides to embark on an improvement in relations.

He needs oil-rich Saudi Arabia's help at a time of high gasoline prices and as he encourages efforts to end the war in Yemen after the Saudis recently extended a ceasefire there. There are also the U.S. priorities of curbing Iran's influence in the Middle East and China's global influence.

Biden was initially opposed to the Saudi visit, seeing it as a boost for MbS and counter to his condemnation of the kingdom’s human rights record, according to one U.S. official.

The president went back and forth on the issue for weeks before aides swayed him by arguing that high oil prices and the regional threat from Iran had made the trip necessary, the official said on condition of anonymity.

His final decision was further spurred by encouragement from Israel, which hopes the Saudi visit will secure Saudi support for Israeli-Arab rapprochement. Biden noted in Madrid that the Israelis "have come out so strongly for my going to Saudi."

Biden will first stop in Israel on his July 13-16 trip.

PUSH ON HUMAN RIGHTS

The president has attempted to straddle the line between placating those who support a strategic improvement in relations and human rights advocates who say the visit is at odds with his promise to put human rights at the heart of U.S. foreign policy.

Four veteran Democratic senators - Jeff Merkley, Patrick Leahy, Ron Wyden and Richard Blumenthal - sent a letter to Biden urging him to use the trip to center the conversation around human rights concerns in the region.

"For too long, we’ve allowed the exigencies of geopolitics to dictate our policies toward the Kingdom. Today, as we once again face multiple crises, let us not allow the urgency of the moment distract from what you have called the defining challenge of our time – defending democracy and human rights," they wrote.

Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Biden's trip is necessary to recalibrate relations with a key ally but that, "Politically there is no upside for the president."

Biden is expected to use his talks with the Saudis to coax Riyadh toward security and diplomatic contacts with Israel as part of an effort to strengthen the regional bulwark against Iran, according to a person in Washington familiar with the matter.

The source stressed, however, that while the administration expects to make progress during Biden's trip, full normalization of relations between the two Middle East powers is still a long way off.

Saudi Arabia has signaled its backing for the Abraham Accords under which the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain forged relations with Israel two years ago, but it has stopped short of recognizing Israel.

People familiar with Biden's stance expect him to bring up human rights when he visits Saudi Arabia, but what form that takes is unclear.

"I have every confidence that human rights will be on the agenda and something he will raise in every meeting," said a former Biden senior administration official. "He is not someone who has ever shied away."
Reporting by Steve Holland and Matt Spetalnick; Additional reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Mary Milliken and Chizu Nomiyama

Avertissement : Les entités de XM Group proposent à notre plateforme de trading en ligne un service d'exécution uniquement, autorisant une personne à consulter et/ou à utiliser le contenu disponible sur ou via le site internet, qui n'a pas pour but de modifier ou d'élargir cette situation. De tels accès et utilisation sont toujours soumis aux : (i) Conditions générales ; (ii) Avertissements sur les risques et (iii) Avertissement complet. Un tel contenu n'est par conséquent fourni que pour information générale. En particulier, sachez que les contenus de notre plateforme de trading en ligne ne sont ni une sollicitation ni une offre de participation à toute transaction sur les marchés financiers. Le trading sur les marchés financiers implique un niveau significatif de risques pour votre capital.

Tout le matériel publié dans notre Centre de trading en ligne est destiné à des fins de formation / d'information uniquement et ne contient pas – et ne doit pas être considéré comme contenant – des conseils et recommandations en matière de finance, de fiscalité des investissements ou de trading, ou un enregistrement de nos prix de trading ou une offre, une sollicitation, une transaction à propos de tout instrument financier ou bien des promotions financières non sollicitées à votre égard.

Tout contenu tiers, de même que le contenu préparé par XM, tels que les opinions, actualités, études, analyses, prix, autres informations ou liens vers des sites tiers contenus sur ce site internet sont fournis "tels quels", comme commentaires généraux sur le marché et ne constituent pas des conseils en investissement. Dans la mesure où tout contenu est considéré comme de la recherche en investissement, vous devez noter et accepter que le contenu n'a pas été conçu ni préparé conformément aux exigences légales visant à promouvoir l'indépendance de la recherche en investissement et, en tant que tel, il serait considéré comme une communication marketing selon les lois et réglementations applicables. Veuillez vous assurer que vous avez lu et compris notre Avis sur la recherche en investissement non indépendante et notre avertissement sur les risques concernant les informations susdites, qui peuvent consultés ici.

Nous utilisons des cookies pour vous donner la meilleure expérience possible de notre site internet. En savoir plus ou modifier vos paramètres de cookies.

Avertissement sur les risques : votre capital est à risque. Les produits à effet de levier ne sont pas recommandés pour tous. Veuillez consulter notre Divulgation des risques