Biden says US would use force as ‘last resort’ to prevent Iranian nuclear weapons
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman fired back at President Joe Biden when he was confronted about the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi during the highly controversial meeting between the two leaders.
A source said that – when confronted about ordering the death of Saudi dissident and Washington Post journalist Khashoggi – MSB brought up two incidents that he said reflected badly on the US: the US military abuse of prisoners at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison and the death of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.
Mr Biden told reporters that he had pressed MBS about Khashoggi’s “outrageous” murder during a wide-ranging meeting between US and Saudi top officials.
“I made my view crystal clear … for an American president to be silent on an issue of human rights is inconsistent with who we are and with who I am,” he said.
This came after Mr Biden came under fire for fist-bumping the man believed to have ordered the death of Khashoggi.
The president’s Middle East trip also continued on Saturday with a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Kadhimi in Jeddah where they discussed the two nations’ bilateral partnership and their determination to ensure that ISIS can never resurge.
Biden meets with Jordan’s King Abdullah
President Joe Biden met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Jeddah on Saturday where the two leaders discussed efforts to advance the partnership between the two nations and work together in “addressing regional and international challenges”.
Following the meeting the White House released a statement revealing Mr Biden had announced plans to enter into a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Jordan.
“President Biden announced the intention of the United States to enter into a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) for assistance for Jordan, in which the United States plans to make a commitment to support the provision of no less than $1.45 billion per year in U.S. bilateral foreign assistance to Jordan, beginning in FY 2023 and ending in FY 2029,” the statement read.
“One of the most significant bilateral instruments of its kind, the MOU represents a major U.S. political commitment to Jordan’s stability and the durability of the partnership.
“The MOU is designed to address Jordan’s extraordinary needs, supports King Abdullah II’s economic reform program, and ensure the long-term strength of the close partnership between the United States and Jordan.”
Rachel Sharp16 July 2022 15:50
Biden invites UAE president to visit US
President Joe Biden has formally invited UAE President Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to visit the US by the end of 2022.
“Challenges you face today only make it a heck of a lot more important we spend time together,” Mr Biden told his UAE counterpart.
“I want to formally invite you to the States.”
The two leaders met on Saturday as part of Mr Biden’s last day in Saudi Arabia. The UAE president took office in May.
Rachel Sharp16 July 2022 15:30
Biden vows that US will ‘not walk away from Middle East’
President Joe Biden promised that the US “will not walk away” from the Middle East as he celebrated the withdrawal of American troops from the region.
Speaking at the Gulf Cooperation Council on Saturday, Mr Biden insisted that the US was not leaving behind a “vacuum” that could be filled by the likes of China, Russia or Iran.
“We will not walk away and leave a vacuum to be filled by China, Russia or Iran,” he said.
“We will seek to build on this moment with active, principled, American leadership.”
Mr Biden said that a lot had changed since he last visited the Middle East when he was vice president in the Obama administration.
“Around the world, we’re seeing efforts to undermine the rules-based order: with China’s increasingly coercive actions in the Indo-Pacific and beyond; with Russia’s brutal and unprovoked war against its neighboring Ukraine; and with Iran’s destabilizing activities. Here in the Middle East, we’ve also seen critical changes,” he said.
“For the first time since 9/11, an American President is visiting this region without American troops being engaged in combat — in a combat mission in the region… today, I am proud to be able to say that the era of land wars in the region — wars involving huge numbers of American forces — is not underway.”
US forces continue to target terrorists in the region with the US military killing the leader of Islamic State in Syria Maher al-Agal in a drone strike earlier this week.
“We maintain both the capacity and the absolute determination to suppress the terrorist threat wherever we find it,” said Mr Biden.
“We’re going to continue our counterterrorism efforts working with a broad coalition of countries, including everyone around this table. And we will turn our attention and our resources to supporting our partners, strengthening our alliances, and building coalitions to solve the problems facing this region and the world — and the world today.”
Rachel Sharp16 July 2022 15:10
Biden and Iraqi leader vow to ensure ISIS can never resurge
President Joe Biden and Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi have vowed that the two countries would work together to ensure ISIS can never resurge.
The two leaders met on Saturday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in a bilateral meeting during the Summit of the United States and the Gulf Cooperation Council and Egypt, Iraq, and Jordan.
The White House released a statement following the meeting, saying that “the two leaders reaffirmed their shared commitment to the strong bilateral partnership between Iraq and the United States under the Strategic Framework Agreement and their determination to continue security coordination to ensure that ISIS can never resurge”.
The two leaders also consulted on a range of regional issues and agreed “that the relationship between the US and Iraq is based on a shared interest in Iraq’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, security, and stability and committed to bolstering the bilateral partnership for the benefit of their two nations”.
“They also reaffirmed the importance of forming a new Iraqi government responsive to the will of the Iraqi people and their respect for Iraq’s democracy and independence,” the White House said.
“President Biden underscored the importance the United States places on a stable, united, sovereign, and prosperous Iraq, to include Iraq’s Kurdistan region.”
Rachel Sharp16 July 2022 14:50
How Biden is spending his last day in Saudi Arabia
President Joe Biden is spending the last day of his controversial Saudi Arabia trip meeting with the leaders of Iraq, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The president first met Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, Egyptian President El Sisi and UAE President Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan individually before attending the Gulf Cooperation Council summit.
Rachel Sharp16 July 2022 14:30
Russian officials visited Iran to examine drones, White House says
Russian officials visited Iran on at least two separate occasions to examine drones that they are considering using for its war on Ukraine, according to the White House.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Saturday that US intelligence shows a Russian delegation visited an Kashan airfield in central Iran on June 8 and July 5.
During the visit, the Iranian military showed them the Shahed-191 and Shahed-129 drones.
CNN first reported the incidents along with a satellite image of the UAVs in flight at the airfield while a Russian delegation transport plane was on site.
Mr Sullivan said the visits suggest “ongoing Russian interest” in procuring the “attack-capable” UAVs or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.
“We have information that the Iranian government is preparing to provide Russia with several hundred UAVs, including weapons-capable UAVs,” Mr Sullivan said.
“We assess an official Russian delegation recently received a showcase of Iranian attack-capable UAVs.
“We are releasing these images captured in June showing Iranian UAVs that the Russian government delegation saw that day. This suggests ongoing Russian interest in acquiring Iranian attack-capable UAVs.”
He added: “To our knowledge, this is the first time a Russian delegation has visited this airfield for such a showcase.”
Rachel Sharp16 July 2022 14:10
MSB fired back at Biden when he raised Khashoggi’s murder
The Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman fired back at President Joe Biden when he was confronted about the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to a report.
A source familiar with the controversial meeting between the two leaders told CNN that MSB responded by bringing up the US military abuse of prisoners at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison and the death of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.
The source said that MSB told Mr Biden that the two incidents reflected badly on the US.
Back in 2004, graphic photos emerged from the Abu Ghraib prison showing US military personnel torturing and sexually abusing Iraqi prisoners captured and held there at the start of the US invasion of the country. The photos eventually led to the conviction of 11 US soldiers.
Meanwhile, Abu Akleh was shot and killed back in May while she was covering an Israeli military operation in the West Bank.
The US has come under fire for its response to her death, with the journalist’s family and Palestinian officials urging officials to hold Israel to account.
On Friday, Mr Biden visited the West Bank alongside Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas where he insisted that the US was committed to gettign a “full and transparent accounting” of her killing.
The Saudi crown prince raised the two incidents after the US president told him he believes he is responsible for ordering the murder of Khashogg – something that US intelligence has shown. MSB denied responsibility.
Rachel Sharp16 July 2022 13:51
Biden says he took MBS to task over Jamal Kashoggi murder
President Joe Biden’s first day in Saudi Arabia ended with him unable to avoid a moment he and his advisers had taken great pains to avoid: a televised fist-bump with the man who ordered the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Kashoggi.
The brief encounter between Mr Biden and Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince who is widely known by his initials, MBS, took place not long after Mr Biden’s arrival in the kingdom for two days of meetings with Saudi officials and leaders from across the Gulf region.
Andrew Feinberg reports for The Independent.
‘With respect to the murder of Kashoggi, I raised it at the top of the meeting, making it clear what I thought of it at the time, and what I think of it now’
Oliver O’Connell16 July 2022 13:45
Biden fist bumps Saudi crown prince
On arrival at the Al Salam Royal Palace on Friday, Mr Biden emerged from the “the Beast” and fist-bumped the crown prince who stood ready to greet him.
The pair then entered the palace to begin their closed-door bilateral meeting with King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud.
The greeting sparked controversy as the president begins the closed-door bilateral meeting
Oliver O’Connell16 July 2022 13:00
Biden told he ‘cannot buy solution’ to Palestine occupation
Joe Biden has been accused of attempting to “buy a solution” to Israel’s half-century-long occupation of Palestine as it was revealed that he would be pledging more than $300 million (£250m) in aid.
On Friday, the US president met his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem – in the Israeli-controlled West Bank – where people gathered to protest his arrival.
Palestinian protesters have been demonstrating against the US president’s arrival
Oliver O’Connell16 July 2022 12:00