Biden says US 'will not walk away' from Middle East - GulfToday

Biden says US 'will not walk away' from Middle East


Family photo of leaders ahead of the Jeddah Security and Development Summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Saturday. Reuters

US President Joe Biden, speaking at a summit of Arab leaders, said on Saturday that the United States "will not walk away” from the Middle East as he tries to ensure stability in a volatile corner of the globe and boost the worldwide flow of oil to reverse rising gas prices.

His remarks, delivered at the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on the final leg of a four-day Middle East tour, came amid concerns about Iran's nuclear ambitions and support for militants in the region.

"We will not walk away and leave a vacuum to be filled by China, Russia or Iran,” Biden said.

"We will seek to build on this moment with active, principled, American leadership.”

Although US forces continue to target terrorists in the region and remain deployed at bases throughout the Middle East, Biden suggested he was turning a page after the country’s invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Today, I’m proud to be able to say that the era of land wars in the region, wars that involved huge numbers of American forces, is not under way,” he said.

He announced $1 billion in US aid to alleviate hunger in the region.

"The future will be won by the countries that unleash the full potential of their populations," he said.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman convened the summit, which gave him an opportunity to showcase his country's heavyweight role in the region.

He also hinted that the kingdom could pump more oil than it is currently, something Biden is hoping to see when an existing production deal among OPEC+ member countries expires in September.

Before summit opened, Biden met individually with the leaders of Iraq, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

He invited Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who became president of the UAE two months ago, to visit the White House this year.

The Gulf Cooperation Council summit in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah was an opportunity for Biden to demonstrate his commitment to the region after spending most of his presidency focused on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s growing influence in Asia.

Biden’s attendance at the Gulf Cooperation Council summit followed his Friday meeting with Prince Mohammed, the heir to the throne currently held by his father, King Salman.

Biden and Prince Mohammed greeted each other with a fist bump when the president arrived at the royal palace in Jeddah.

Officials say they spoke about energy security, expanding high-speed internet access in the Middle East and other issues.

Biden even tried to inject some humor into the conversation by the end of the meeting, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity discuss a private meeting.

Adel Al Jubeir, the kingdom’s minister of state for foreign affairs, called the visit a "great success” and brushed off questions about friction between the two countries. .

"Maybe the skeptics are people looking for theatrics or drama. The reality, however, is that this relationship is very solid,” he told Arab News, a Saudi news organisation.

Associated Press

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