The Latest: Saudi Arabia plays down normalization with Israel | Scientific News
By The Associated Press
The latest on US President Joe Biden’s trip to the Middle East:
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat played down normalization talks with Israel on Saturday after the kingdom opened its airspace to Israeli commercial flights and struck a complex deal on the Red Sea islands that required the Israeli consent.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Farhan bin Faisal spoke to reporters after President Joe Biden’s four-day visit to the region, including two days the US leader spent in Saudi Arabia, where he spoke with the Saudi King and Crown Prince, the de facto ruler of the kingdom and participated in a summit of regional leaders.
Prince Farhan stressed that there had been no talks at the summit about military cooperation with Israel or a so-called “Arab NATO”.
“There is no discussion of a defensive alliance with Israel,” he repeated.
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Ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia have grown closer amid shared concerns about Iran. The kingdom’s public position is that it has long welcomed normalization with Israel as long as Palestinian rights and demands for statehood are guaranteed.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE HAPPENS:
TEHRAN, Iran — Dozens of Iranian hardliners gathered in a square in downtown Tehran on Saturday, burning American and Israeli flags and denouncing President Joe Biden’s visit to the Middle East.
The small crowd also erupted in chanting “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”, typical of anti-American rallies in Iran. The demonstrators also protested the normalization of ties between Israel and several Arab countries that began under the previous US administration.
Biden told a broader regional summit in Saudi Arabia on Saturday that the United States would not walk away from Middle Eastern security and leave a vacuum that Russia, China or Iran could try to fill. .
Separately, Iran announced on Saturday that it was imposing sanctions on 61 Americans, including Mike Pompeo, the former secretary of state, and John Bolton, the former national security adviser, for their support of Iranian groups. foreign-based dissidents.
Iran has in recent years repeatedly imposed such symbolic measures on Americans who Tehran says are acting against Iran. In June, an Iranian court also ordered the US government to pay more than $4 billion to the families of Iranian nuclear scientists who have been killed in targeted attacks in recent years.
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — President Joe Biden and King Abullah of Jordan met in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, with the White House announcing that the United States has pledged to provide a new aid package to Jordan of at least $1.45 billion per year.
The announcement came after the two leaders met on the sidelines of a broader regional summit where Biden vowed the United States would not walk away from Middle East security and let vacuum to Russia, China or Iran to try to fill .
Jordan, which hosts Palestinian and Syrian refugees, shares borders with Israel and the West Bank. Its stability is considered crucial for the region, but its economy has struggled under the weight of inflation and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The government has faced public protests and the king’s brother, Prince Hamza, is under house arrest following a public rebuke from the country’s leaders.
In 2017, the United States committed to providing no less than $1.27 billion annually in bilateral foreign assistance to Jordan, beginning in 2018 and ending in 2022. The new annual package to Jordan is an adjustment of this annual American support for the country.
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — President Joe Biden says he has clear eyes on the challenges in the Middle East and that the United States intends to remain engaged in the region.
Speaking in Saudi Arabia on Saturday at a summit of Gulf leaders, as well as leaders from Iraq, Egypt and Jordan, Biden said: “We are not going to walk away and leave a vacuum to be filled. by China, Russia or Iran”. He added that “the United States will remain an active, committed partner in the Middle East.”
Biden lays out the principles of his strategy for the region, focusing on regional cooperation to address threats.
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — President Joe Biden has invited the Abu Dhabi leader who directs policy in the United Arab Emirates to visit the White House before the end of the year.
The two men met on Saturday ahead of a wider summit in Saudi Arabia.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed was unanimously named the autocratic nation’s president in May following the death of his brother.
Even as Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, he has long been seen as the force behind the UAE’s “Little Sparta” reputation for his outsized influence in politics that stretch from the Horn of Africa to North Africa and beyond. Under his influence, the United Arab Emirates became the first Arab state in more than two decades to normalize relations with Israel.
Like Saudi Arabia, however, relations between the Biden administration and Abu Dhabi have been strained. The United Arab Emirates has called on Biden to reverse a decision he made early in his presidency to remove Houthi rebels in Yemen from the list of terror groups. The United Arab Emirates participated in the war in Yemen, which killed thousands of civilians and caused a humanitarian disaster.
Abu Dhabi was the target of Yemeni rebel missile and drone strikes earlier this year. The attacks, which killed three migrant workers and targeted an area near a base that hosts US forces, have shaken the small country’s image as a bastion of stability and economic prosperity in the region.
Emirati officials were reportedly disappointed with the Biden administration’s response to the attacks. They are also wary of US efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal and are frustrated with some conditions on US arms sales. While the UAE is the first foreign customer for the Lockheed Martin THAAD anti-missile system, it has long sought American-made F-35 fighter jets.
Meanwhile, US-based rights group DAWN said one of its board members, who was also a close friend and lawyer of slain Saudi critic Jamal Khahshoggi, had been arrested while in transit in Dubai and taken to Abu Dhabi. The group says Asim Ghafoor, a US citizen, has been detained since Thursday on murky “money laundering” charges.
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi citizens will soon be able to obtain 10-year visitor visas, twice the current validity, under a deal reached during US President Joe Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia.
The U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia announced on Saturday that the agreement extends the validity of visitor visas for Saudi citizens from five years to 10 years starting August 1.
The announcement indicates that the trips contribute significantly to the economies of both countries and strengthen the bonds between citizens.
Biden is on a two-day visit to Saudi Arabia that began Friday with a meeting with King Salman. This was followed by a well-attended face-to-face meeting with the Kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The two bumped fists when they first met under Biden’s presidency.
Biden said he raised the issue of human rights during his meeting with the prince, but stressed that the purpose of the visit was to reaffirm American influence in the region.
The Saudis say 18 cooperation agreements and memoranda were signed by the two delegations on Friday evening, including an agreement with NASA allowing Saudi Arabia to undertake joint exploration of the Moon and Mars in cooperation with the US space agency.
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — US President Joe Biden met with the Egyptian President in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders since Biden took office in 2021.
Biden was heard thanking President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi for Egypt’s role in brokering a ceasefire to Israel’s war with Hamas last year in the Gaza Strip, an acknowledgment of the role of Cairo in the region.
Egypt’s president, who came to power following mass protests and a military coup that toppled the divisive Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, faces an economic crisis as inflation due to rising fuel and food prices are hitting the most populous nation in the Arab world particularly hard. About a third of the 103 million Egyptians live in poverty.
Although the former army strongman has been credited with stabilizing Egypt’s economy after several years of political turmoil, the country is one of the world’s largest importers of wheat, much of which comes from Ukrainian ports now blocked.
Meanwhile, el-Sisi’s government has not hesitated to use brute force while imprisoning thousands of people, mostly Islamists but also secular activists in a bid to stifle dissent.
In recent months, his government has released hundreds of detainees and started a so-called national dialogue with various groups, but the government continues to hold many high-profile detainees, including pro-democracy activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah. Egyptian security forces have been accused of torturing detainees, including fears that economist Ayman Hadhoud was among those beaten to death while in police custody this year.
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — President Joe Biden began his last day in Saudi Arabia by meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who survived an assassination attempt with explosive drones last year.
Some in the country blamed the attack on Iranian-backed factions. This came amid growing tensions and a confrontation between Iraqi security forces and pro-Iranian Shiite militias over the election results.
Biden has said he wants to support Iraqi democracy.
“I want the press and you to know that we want to be (as) helpful as possible in doing this,” he said.
Al-Kadhimi spoke of the “strategic and friendly relationship” between the United States and Iraq, and he thanked the United States for its support in the fight against terrorist groups.
An estimated 2,500 US troops remain in Iraq to support the country’s fight against Islamic State.
Biden is in Jeddah to attend a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The leaders of Egypt, Iraq and Jordan are also present.
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