US President Joe Biden on Saturday in Jeddah sets out to leaders of Arab countries his vision for the Middle East and tries to stem the volatility in oil prices that is weighing on the global economy.< /strong>
After a visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories, Joe Biden concludes his first tour in the Middle East with a summit with several Arab countries, in particular the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain), as well as Egypt, Jordan and Iraq.
In Jeddah, in western Saudi Arabia, the US president “solemnly” invited his counterpart from the United Arab Emirates, Mohammed bin Zayed, to visit the United States, after frosty relations between the two partners his last months.
“The challenges we face today make it even more important that we spend time together,” said Joe Biden during a bilateral meeting, before the launch of the American-Arab summit in the early afternoon.
After a period of tension between Washington and several Arab partners, starting with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, major oil exporters, the 79-year-old Democratic president will “clearly and substantially present his vision” for the Middle East, his national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Friday. and long-term” in the Middle East and North Africa, a senior White House official said in an interview with reporters on Saturday.
“We are not going to leave a vacuum that China and Russia would come to fill”, with Iran in ambush, promised for his part Joe Biden on Friday.
< /p> The “fist bump”
The trip is already marked by the image of a president exchanging the “check” of the fist with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), accused by American intelligence of being the sponsor of the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Kashoggi. Joe Biden had also classified Saudi Arabia as a “pariah” state.
Joe Biden assured Friday, in a hastily organized press briefing in the evening, to have mentioned this affair “at the very beginning” of his meeting with the crown prince, in fact at the helm of the rich monarchy, ensuring that he had been “we cannot clearer”.
According to the Saudi channel Al-Arabiya, quoting a Saudi official, the Kashoggi affair was quickly discussed between the two men and the prince admitted that it was “regrettable”.< /p>
MBS also added that “such things happen all over the world” pointing out “the many mistakes” made by Washington such as those on the scandal of the treatment of prisoners by the Americans in the Iraqi prison of Abu Ghraib.
But the White House wants above all to address the issue of the price of oil, the volatility of which threatens the global economy and weighs on the purchasing power of Americans.
The increase in the gallon of gasoline is an issue for the American president a few months before the midterm elections in the United States. Joe Biden will try to convince the oil monarchy to open the floodgates of its production.
“I am doing everything possible to increase production for the United States,” he said on Friday, adding that the first concrete results will be seen “in a few weeks”.
A senior U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity said the GCC will participate in a $3 billion major international infrastructure partnership spearheaded by Washington, meant to be a response to China's huge 'Silk Roads' investments. .
Saudi Arabia and the United States have concluded 18 cooperation agreements in a wide variety of fields (space, finance, energy, health ), according to a statement from the Gulf monarchy.
In addition, Washington is also seeking to focus on geostrategic issues and in particular to draw a path towards normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which have no official relations.
Joe Biden has welcomed Riyadh's “historic” decision to open its airspace to “all carriers”, including Israelis, and announced progress on a strategic island in the Red Sea, located between Saudi Arabia, the Egypt and Israel.
The White House also reported an agreement by Saudi Arabia to connect the electricity grids of the GCC countries to that of Iraq, which depends greatly energy imported from Iran, a pet peeve of Americans and Saudis alike.
The US executive also hailed the fact that, according to him, Saudi Arabia is “committed to expanding and strengthening the United Nations-mediated ceasefire in Yemen”, which has lasted fifteen weeks.
The serious humanitarian crisis in which the he country has been plunged into a war in which Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are involved is another source of unease between Washington and these Gulf partners.