Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (right) and US President Joe Biden
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (right) and US President Joe Biden meet at Al Salam Palace in Jeddah, on July 15, 2022. Image Credit: REUTERS

Jeddah: US President Joe Biden landed on Friday in Jeddah aboard a historic direct flight from Israel to Saudi Arabia, the latest stop on his first Middle East tour as US leader.

Saudi state media showed images of Air Force One at the airport in the coastal city, making Biden the first US leader to fly directly from Israel to an Arab nation that does not recognise it.

Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz during his meeting with Biden on Friday. Image Credit: Reuters

Biden was greeted by Prince Khalid Al Faisal, the governor of Mecca province, where Jeddah is located. Other people in the Saudi greeting party including the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Reema bint Bandar Al Saud.

Biden gave a fist bump to Saudi Crown Prince, Saudi state television showed.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman fist bumps Biden upon his arrival at Jeddah palace on Friday. Image Credit: Reuters

The US President later held a bilateral meeting with Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz at the royal palace in Jeddah.

Biden, Crown Prince hold talks

Later in the evening on Friday, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Joe Biden held talks at the Al Salam Palace in Jeddah, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

The leaders headed a large meeting between officials from both countries. The official talks touched on various topics such as how to boost cooperation between the two countries and ways to confront regional and world challenges.

US President Joe Biden participates in a bilateral meeting with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, at Al Salam Royal Palace, in Jeddah, on July 15, 2022.
US President Joe Biden participates in a bilateral meeting with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, at Al Salam Royal Palace, in Jeddah, on July 15, 2022. Image Credit: REUTERS

Biden to attend GCC summit on Saturday

The US President will take part in a Saturday gathering of six Gulf Cooperation Council leaders from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE before returning to Washington. The leaders of Egypt, Iraq and Jordan will also to attend.

Earlier in the day, the Saudi leadership paved the way for Israeli planes to use its airspace by announcing it was lifting restrictions on “all carriers,” a move welcomed by Biden as “historic.”

“Saudi Arabia’s decision can help build momentum toward Israel’s further integration into the region, including with Saudi Arabia,” Biden said.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (right) and US President Joe Biden
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (right) and US President Joe Biden meet at Al Salman Palace upon his arrival in Jeddah, on July 15, 2022. Image Credit: AFP

Biden was to discuss energy security with leaders of Gulf oil producers and hopes to see more action by Opec+ to boost output, but there were unlikely to be any bilateral announcements from the talks, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters en route to Jeddah from Israel.

“We believe any further action taken to ensure that there is sufficient energy to protect the health of the global economy, it will be done in the context of Opec+,” said Sullivan. “We are hopeful that we will see additional actions by Opec+ in coming weeks.” The Opec+ group that includes Russia meets next on August 3.

US-Saudi ties through good times and bad
The US-Saudi alliance has weathered many storms over the decades, including tensions over the Arab-Israeli conflict, the fallout of the September 11 attacks, and Iran policy.
But the relationship remains vital to both: Saudi Arabia is the world’s biggest oil exporter and the United States’ largest foreign military sales customer.
Here are some milestones in ties:
1931 The United States recognises the Kingdom of Hejaz and Nejd, renamed Saudi Arabia the following year.
1933 Saudi Arabia grants an oil exploration concession to Standard Oil of California. Its Saudi branch, later renamed Aramco, makes the first commercial find in 1938.
1945 President Franklin D. Roosevelt meets King Abdul Aziz aboard the USS Quincy in the Suez Canal, setting the stage for decades of close ties.
1950 Saudi Arabia renegotiates the Aramco concession, securing more revenue.
1951 Saudi Arabia and the United States conclude a Mutual Defence Assistance Agreement, opening the way for US arms sales.
1973 Saudi Arabia joins an Arab oil embargo against the United States and other countries over their support for Israel in a 1973 war with Egypt and Syria. Oil prices had nearly quadrupled by the time the embargo was lifted in 1974.
1979 With US and Pakistani cooperation, Saudi Arabia helps fund Afghan resistance to Soviet occupation. Many Saudis, including Saudi-born Osama bin Laden, fund and join Afghan fighters.
1980 Saudi Arabia completes purchase of 100% of Aramco shares.
1990 Iraq invades Kuwait. The following year, US-led forces use Saudi Arabia as a launchpad to expel Iraqi forces. Most US troops then leave Saudi Arabia, but thousands remain.
1996 A truck bomb kills 19 US soldiers at a US military complex in Khobar.
2001 Nearly 3,000 people are killed in the September 11 attacks by Al Qaida hijackers. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers are Saudis.
Saudi Arabia always denies any link to or knowledge of the attacks. A US government commission in 2004 finds no evidence that Saudi Arabia directly funded Al Qaida. It leaves open whether individual Saudi officials might have done so.
2003 Saudi Arabia opposes the US-led invasion of Iraq.
The United States withdraws all remaining combat troops from Saudi Arabia.
Three suicide bombers kill at least 35 people, including nine Americans, in Riyadh, part of a years-long militant insurgency against foreigners and Saudi government facilities.
2011 The Arab world is convulsed by uprisings. Saudi Arabia is concerned by what it sees as President Barack Obama’s abandonment of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a US ally.
2013 Saudi royals complain publicly about US policies, including Obama’s approach to Iran and Syria.
2015 World powers strike a deal with Iran easing sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear programme. Riyadh fears this will strengthen Iran.
Saudi Arabia launches a campaign against Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen, giving Washington only a few hours notice.
The United States however provides military support.
2016 Congress overrides Obama’s veto of a law removing sovereign immunity and opening the way for relatives of Sept. 11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia over the attacks.
2018 Saudi Arabia welcomes President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran agreement.
In November, the United States condemns Khashoggi’s killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
The United States becomes the world’s largest oil producer.
An attack on Saudi oil installations halves production.
Trump says it looked like Iran was behind the attack but stresses he does not want to go to war.
2020 Saudi Arabia signals backing for the Abraham Accords under which its allies the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain forge ties with Israel. Riyadh stops short of recognising Israel itself.
2021 Biden declares a halt to US support for offensive operations in Yemen, including relevant arms sales.
2022 In June, Biden says Saudi Arabia had shown “courageous leadership” by backing extension of a UN-backed Yemen truce.
With oil prices soaring, the White House welcomes a decision by Opec+ nations to increase supplies.
Washington announces Biden’s Saudi Arabia visit.
-- Reuters