US President Joe Biden will discuss volatile oil prices at a summit in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, his final stop on his Middle East tour.
Leaders of six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Egypt, Jordan, and Iraq will meet in Jeddah to discuss the future of Saudi Arabia's second city along the Red Sea coast.
Biden arrived Friday in Saudi Arabia. A longtime US ally, Biden once promised to make a "pariah of" its human rights record. He met with King Salman (de facto ruler), and other high-ranking Saudi officials.
Biden and Prince Mohammed had been at odds for some time, particularly after US intelligence found that Prince Mohammed "approved” an operation against journalist Jamal Khashoggi. This revelation came after Biden's administration published US intelligence findings that claimed Prince Mohammed "approved" an attack on Khashoggi. The grisly killing of Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia's Istanbul consulate was a cause for outrage worldwide. Biden appears to be ready to re-engage a country that has been an American strategic ally for decades and is a major oil supplier and avid buyer of arms. Washington wants the largest crude oil exporter in the world to reduce gasoline prices. This could threaten Democratic chances in the November mid-term elections.
Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security advisor, tempered expectations about immediate progress while speaking to reporters on the flight from Washington to Jeddah.
He said, "I don’t believe you should expect any particular announcement here bilaterally."
"We believe that any additional action to ensure that there's enough energy to protect the global economy's health will be taken in the context of OPEC+," Sullivan stated, referring to the larger group of oil producers.
So, Biden stated that the summit will allow him to "lay out clearly, substantively his vision of and strategy" for US involvement in the Middle East.
Biden stated that his trip was about "once again positioning America in the region for the future."
He insisted that "we are not going leave a vacuum for Russia or China in the Middle East to fill."
Officials from the White House used the trip to encourage integration between Israel, Arab and other nations.
It is expected that Saturday's agenda will include the issue of Tiran and Sanafir, two strategically important Red Sea islands.
Egypt gave the islands to Saudi Arabia in 2016. However, Israel must approve the deal. This could encourage contact between Riyadh and the Jewish state.
Therefore, Biden stated Friday that the Tiran multinational peacekeeping force of decades, which includes US troops, would be disbanded. The White House added that they would return by the end of the year.
Saudi Arabia refused to join the US-brokered Abraham Accords that in 2020 established ties between Israel, two of its neighbors, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain.
Riyadh repeatedly stated that it will stick to the Arab League's decades-old position of not establishing official relations with Israel until the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel is resolved.
So, it is showing more openness to Israel and announced on Friday that it would lift all restrictions on flights to and from Israel. Biden called this "historic".
Yair Lapid, Israeli Prime Minister, and Caretaker said further: "This is the first formal step towards normalization with Saudi Arabia."