US President Joe Biden will visit Saudi Arabia next month to boost “historic relations and distinguished strategic partnership” between both countries, the kingdom’s royal court said Tuesday.
During the July 15-16 visit, Biden will meet Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed for cooperation talks and discuss “means of tackling challenges facing the region and the world,” the Saudi news agency SPA reported, citing the royal court.
On the second day of the visit, Biden will attend a regional summit of the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as well as Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq.
Biden’s trip comes at an invitation from King Salman, SPA said. His talks with Saudi leaders are expected to infuse fresh vigour into the Riyadh-Washington ties, which have been lukewarm under Biden.
The long-speculated visit comes amid soaring global energy prices due to the Russian war in Ukraine. Concerns are also growing about Iran’s nuclear program.
In a sign of a thaw, Biden earlier this month praised Saudi Arabia for its efforts in securing the extension of an UN-mediated ceasefire in war-torn Yemen. He called the Saudi ceasefire decision “courageous”.
The White House earlier Tuesday confirmed that Biden will go to Saudi Arabia after the kingdom this month helped nudge OPEC+ to ramp up oil output by 648,000 barrels per day in July and August.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said King Salman invited Biden to visit the kingdom during a gathering in the port city of Jeddah of the six GCC nations, which besides Saudi Arabia, comprises, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar.
“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 the war began seven years ago,’’ Jean-Pierre said, according to AP.
“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.”
The visit will be part of Biden’s first trip to the Middle East since he took office in January last year. His first stop in the whirlwind tour will be Israel before he heads to the Palestinian West Bank.