Saudi Arabia opens airspace to Israeli flights ahead of Biden visit

The move came just before Biden took flight as the first American leader to travel directly from Israel to the Saudi kingdom, and could be seen as a step towards normalizing relations between the two countries – a relationship that the administration strives to “deepen and develop.” »

While domestic issues have weighed on Biden’s presidency, he has won several victories abroad this year, playing a vital role in uniting democracies amid Russia’s assault on Ukraine. The president’s trip to the Middle East is his next big test of foreign policy as he juggles challenges from political instability to issues of human rights, energy supply and regional security.

After visiting Israel and then the West Bank this week to meet with Palestinian leaders, the next leg of Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia will include a Gulf Cooperation Council summit with leaders from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. , Qatar, Iraq, Jordan and Egypt.

The White House also confirmed Thursday that Biden would meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman without King Salman in the room. The president has faced backlash ahead of the potential meeting, as rights advocates raise alarm that his trip could be seen as liberating the country from its human rights abuses, including including the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

“I always talk about human rights, but my position on Khashoggi is so clear that if someone doesn’t understand it in Saudi Arabia or anywhere else, they haven’t surrounded me in a while,” Biden said. to reporters in Jerusalem this week. , not committing to discuss Khashoggi’s death with the crown prince.


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