US won’t walk away from Middle East: Biden

While meeting Arab leaders at the Saudi summit, Biden laid out his strategy for the Middle East, reports Asian Lite News

US President Joe Biden, who is on a visit to Saudi Arabia, said the United States “will not walk away” from the Middle East and leave a vacuum to be filled by China, Russia or Iran, media reports said.

While meeting Arab leaders at the Saudi summit, Biden laid out his strategy for the Middle East. Notably, this is the final leg of Biden’s four-day trip which is meant to bolster ties in the region.

The summit took place in Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea city of Jeddah on Saturday where Biden spoke extensively of the importance Washington pays to the region.

Leaders of six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates – plus Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq are holding talks on regional security and bilateral relations with the United States at the summit, reported Al Jazeera.

“We will not walk away and leave a vacuum to be filled by China, Russia or Iran,” Biden said adding “We will seek to build on this moment with active, principled, American leadership.”

Jeddah Security and Development Summit (Photo: SPA)

“Today, I am proud to be able to say that the eras of land wars in the region, wars that involved huge numbers of American forces, is not underway,” he said.

Biden urged his counterparts to ensure human rights, including women’s rights, and allow their citizens to speak openly. “The future will be won by the countries that unleash the full potential of their populations,” he said, including allowing people to “question and criticise leaders without fear of reprisal.”

Earlier on Saturday morning, the US president held individual meetings with the leaders of Iraq, Egypt and the UAE, as per the media portal.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and the United States agreed on Friday to strengthen cooperation in the fields of 5G networks, cybersecurity, space exploration, and public health, Al Arabiya News reported.

The agreements were made on the sidelines of US President Joe Biden’s first state visit to the kingdom, where he met with top Saudi officials to review the kingdom’s defensive needs and the importance of global energy security.

US President Joe Biden arrives to participate in the Jeddah Security and Development Summit. (Photo: SPA)

In a statement after the meetings, Biden welcomed Saudi Arabia’s fresh signing of the NASA-led Artemis Accords, an outer space exploration treaty, saying the United States “reaffirms its commitment to the responsible, peaceful, and sustainable exploration and use of outer space.”

The US president praised the role the kingdom played in supporting the UN ceasefire efforts in Yemen. The visit to Saudi Arabia is the last destination of Biden’s first Middle East tour as US President.

The diplomatic tour, which started on Wednesday also covered Israel and the West Bank.

The improvement of the relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia is another key development. Israeli officials lauded on Friday Saudi Arabia’s decision to open its airspace to “all carriers,” including those from Israel, as a sign of the budding normalization process between the two countries.

Just ahead of Biden’s visit on Friday, the Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation tweeted that the kingdom has decided to open its airspace “to all carriers that meet the authority’s requirements for overflying,” with no specific reference to Israel.

Israeli airlines had been banned by Saudi Arabia from flying over the kingdom’s airspace, making flights between Israel and Asia longer and costlier. (ANI)

Glimpses from the summit:-

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