In a bid to convince Washington’s Gulf allies to pump more oil and include Israel in the region as part of a new axis driven in part by shared fears over Iran, US President Joe Biden is holding talks Saturday with Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia. In a joint statement released by the Saudi state news agency, the two countries stressed the importance of preventing Iran “from acquiring a nuclear weapon”.
On the second leg of his first trip to the Middle East as president, Biden played down the meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a move that drew criticism in the United States over human rights abuses. the man. Instead, he focused on the planned summit with six Gulf states, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq. In response to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents in 2018, Biden had vowed to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” on the international stage. However, he eventually came to the conclusion that US interests required a recalibration, not a severance, in relations with the country, which is the top oil exporter and an Arab superpower.
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At a time when there is a temporary ceasefire in the war in Yemen and high crude prices, as well as other issues related to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, Biden needs Saudi help. Washington is also seeking to reduce China’s global influence and Iran’s grip on the region. Gulf governments, which have staunchly refused to back the West against Russia in the Ukraine conflict, are in turn seeking firm US commitment to strategic partnerships that have become strained due to perceived US disengagement. of the region.
(with agency contributions)
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