The Latest: Biden says US will stay ‘engaged’ in Middle East


FILE - President Joe Biden speaks to reporters after meetings with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the Waldorf Astoria Jeddah Qasr Al Sharq Hotel, July 15, 2022, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.  Biden promises a

FILE – President Joe Biden speaks to reporters after meetings with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the Waldorf Astoria Jeddah Qasr Al Sharq Hotel, July 15, 2022, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Biden is promising “strong executive action” to tackle climate change, despite twin setbacks in recent weeks that have limited his ability to regulate carbon emissions and boost clean energy such as wind and solar power. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

PA

The latest on US President Joe Biden’s trip to the Middle East:

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — President Joe Biden says he has clear eyes on the challenges in the Middle East and that the United States intends to remain engaged in the region.

Speaking in Saudi Arabia on Saturday at a summit of Gulf leaders, as well as leaders from Iraq, Egypt and Jordan, Biden said: “We are not going to walk away and leave a vacuum to be filled. by China, Russia or Iran”. He added that “the United States will remain an active, committed partner in the Middle East.”

Biden lays out the principles of his strategy for the region, focusing on regional cooperation to address threats.

HERE’S WHAT ELSE HAPPENS:

Biden meets with Arab Gulf countries to counter Iranian threat

In the West Bank, Biden embraces “two states for two peoples”

During Biden’s visit, a look at those targeted in Saudi Arabia

Israeli politics as backdrop to Biden’s visit to the Middle East

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President Joe Biden has invited the Abu Dhabi leader who directs policy in the United Arab Emirates to visit the White House before the end of the year.

The two men met on Saturday ahead of a wider summit in Saudi Arabia.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed was unanimously named the autocratic nation’s president in May following the death of his brother.

Even as Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, he has long been seen as the force behind the UAE’s “Little Sparta” reputation for his outsized influence in politics that stretch from the Horn of Africa to North Africa and beyond. Under his influence, the United Arab Emirates became the first Arab state in more than two decades to normalize relations with Israel.

Like Saudi Arabia, however, relations between the Biden administration and Abu Dhabi have been strained. The United Arab Emirates has called on Biden to reverse a decision he made early in his presidency to remove Houthi rebels in Yemen from the list of terror groups. The United Arab Emirates participated in the war in Yemen, which killed thousands of civilians and caused a humanitarian catastrophe.

Abu Dhabi was the target of Yemeni rebel missile and drone strikes earlier this year. The attacks, which killed three migrant workers and targeted an area near a base that hosts US forces, have shaken the small country’s image as a bastion of stability and economic prosperity in the region.

Emirati officials were reportedly disappointed with the Biden administration’s response to the attacks. They are also wary of US efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal and are frustrated with some conditions on US arms sales. While the United Arab Emirates is the first foreign customer for the Lockheed Martin THAAD anti-missile system, it has long sought American-made F-35 fighter jets.

Meanwhile, US-based rights group DAWN said one of its board members, who was also a close friend and lawyer of slain Saudi critic Jamal Khahshoggi, had been arrested while in transit in Dubai and taken to Abu Dhabi. The group says Asim Ghafoor, a US citizen, has been detained since Thursday on murky “money laundering” charges.

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JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi citizens will soon be able to obtain 10-year visitor visas, twice the current validity, under a deal reached during US President Joe Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia.

The U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia announced on Saturday that the agreement extends the validity of visitor visas for Saudi citizens from five years to 10 years starting August 1.

The announcement indicates that the trips contribute significantly to the economies of both countries and strengthen the bonds between citizens.

Biden is on a two-day visit to Saudi Arabia that began Friday with a meeting with King Salman. This was followed by a well-attended face-to-face meeting with the Kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The two bumped fists when they first met under Biden’s presidency.

Biden said he raised the issue of human rights during his meeting with the prince, but stressed that the purpose of the visit was to reaffirm American influence in the region.

The Saudis say 18 cooperation agreements and memoranda were signed by the two delegations on Friday evening, including an agreement with NASA allowing Saudi Arabia to undertake joint exploration of the Moon and Mars in cooperation with the US space agency.

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JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — US President Joe Biden met with the Egyptian President in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders since Biden took office in 2021.

Biden was heard thanking President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi for Egypt’s role in brokering a ceasefire to Israel’s war with Hamas last year in the Gaza Strip, an acknowledgment of the role of Cairo in the region.

Egypt’s president, who came to power following mass protests and a military coup that toppled the divisive Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, faces an economic crisis as inflation due to rising fuel and food prices are hitting the most populous nation in the Arab world particularly hard. About a third of the 103 million Egyptians live in poverty.

Although the former army strongman has been credited with stabilizing Egypt’s economy after several years of political turmoil, the country is one of the world’s largest importers of wheat, much of which comes from Ukrainian ports now blocked.

Meanwhile, el-Sisi’s government has not hesitated to use brute force while imprisoning thousands of people, mostly Islamists but also secular activists in a bid to stifle dissent.

In recent months, his government has released hundreds of detainees and started a so-called national dialogue with various groups, but the government continues to hold many high-profile detainees, including pro-democracy activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah. Egyptian security forces have been accused of torturing detainees, including fears that economist Ayman Hadhoud was among those beaten to death while in police custody this year.

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JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — President Joe Biden began his last day in Saudi Arabia by meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who survived an assassination attempt with explosive drones last year.

Some in the country blamed the attack on Iranian-backed factions. This came amid growing tensions and a confrontation between Iraqi security forces and pro-Iranian Shiite militias over the election results.

Biden has said he wants to support Iraqi democracy.

“I want the press and you to know that we want to be (as) helpful as possible in doing this,” he said.

Al-Kadhimi spoke of the “strategic and friendly relationship” between the United States and Iraq, and he thanked the United States for its support in the fight against terrorist groups.

An estimated 2,500 US troops remain in Iraq to support the country’s fight against Islamic State.

Biden is in Jeddah to attend a Gulf Cooperation Council summit, which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The leaders of Egypt, Iraq and Jordan are also present.

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