JEDDAH: US President Joe Biden is set to discuss volatile oil prices during a summit with Arab leaders on Saturday in Saudi Arabia, the final stop of his Middle East tour.
On his first trip to the region as president, Biden is also looking to outline his vision for Washington’s role in the region in order to not cede influence to Russia and China.
He plans to announce Saturday that the US is committing $1 billion in food aid to the Middle East and North Africa amid rising food insecurity induced by the war in Ukraine, a senior official told reporters.
Saturday’s meeting in Jeddah will bring together leaders of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council as well as Egypt, Jordan and Iraq.
Biden landed Friday in Saudi Arabia, a longtime US ally he once vowed to make a “pariah” over its human rights record, and met with King Salman and de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Tensions had been high between Biden and Prince Mohammed, especially after Biden’s administration released US intelligence findings that Prince Mohammed “approved” an operation targeting journalist Jamal Khashoggi, whose killing and dismemberment in Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate in 2018 spurred global outrage.
After a fist-bump greeting with Prince Mohammed, Biden said he raised Khashoggi’s case “at the top” of their discussions and “made it clear if anything occurs like that again they will get that response and much more”.
The Al-Arabiya channel quoted a Saudi official saying the pair “addressed the issue of Jamal Khashoggi quickly” and that Prince Mohammed “confirmed that what happened is regrettable and we have taken all legal measures to prevent” a recurrence.
Prince Mohammed also pointed out that “such an incident occurs anywhere in the world”, highlighting “a number of mistakes” made by Washington such as torturing detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
Biden seeks to persuade Saudi Arabia to pump more oil as prices soar
Biden faces pressure to raise human rights issues again Saturday, after dozens of British and US lawmakers urged him to discuss Egypt’s “extensive architecture of repression” in talks with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.