UPDATED 2:05 PM PT – Sunday, July 10, 2022
President Joe Biden defended his upcoming meeting with Saudi leaders despite outcry from critics. In a Washington Post op-ed allegedly written by Biden, the president asserted his commitment to upholding human rights.
However, he argued that he has to position America to take on Russia and China. He claimed bolstering ties with Saudi Arabia will help do that. The Saudi Royal Family, especially crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman have been suspected of aiding the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the recent mass executions of political prisoners.
“I know that there are many who disagree with my decision to travel to Saudi Arabia,” Biden said. “My views on human rights are clear and long-standing. Fundamental freedoms are always on the agenda when I travel abroad as they will be during this trip, just as they will be in Israel and the West Bank.”
Additionally, critics have condemned Biden’s recent attempts to reach out to the Saudi government to beg for oil exports amid his war with American energy companies. Biden said the Middle East he will be visiting is more stable and secure than the one his administration inherited 18 months ago.
“As president, it is my job to keep our country strong and secure,” he voiced. “We have to counter Russia’s aggression. We have to put ourselves in the best possible position to outcompete China and work for greater stability in a consequential region of the world. To do these things we have to engage directly with countries that can impact those outcomes. Saudi Arabia is one of them and when I meet with Saudi leaders my aim will be to strengthen a strategic partnership going forward that’s based on mutual interests and responsibilities, while also holding true to fundamental American values.”
Biden will be the first president to fly from Israel to Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. He claimed his travels will be a small symbol of the budding relations and steps toward normalization between Israel and the Arab world, which his administration has worked to deepen and expand.
He is expected to visit Saudi Arabia on Friday during his tour of the middle east.
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