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Biden fist bumps MBS as Rep Omar says Saudi Arabia trip sends ‘wrong message’ – live

Biden fist bumps MBS as Rep Omar says Saudi Arabia trip sends ‘wrong message’ - live
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Biden says US would use force as ‘last resort’ to prevent Iranian nuclear weapons

Joe Biden has landed in Jeddah after making a historic flight as the first US president to fly direct from Israel to Saudi Arabia.

The visit includes a highly-anticipated meeting with the Saudi king and crown prince and comes amid tensions over energy supply, civil liberties, and security cooperation. Rep Ilhan Omar says the trip “sends the wrong message to everyone who cares about human rights”.

The trip is designed to reset the US’ relationship with a country he once pledged to make a “pariah” on the world stage. Ahead of the visit, Israel and Saudi Arabia took an important step towards normalising relations with an agreement on flights and Red Sea islands.

Before flying to Jeddah, the president attempted to repair ties with Palestinians as he reaffirmed US support for “two states for two peoples”. However, he acknowledged that the “ground is not ripe” to restart Israeli-Palestinian talks.

Mr Biden also announced just over $300m in aid to the Palestinians and commitments from Israel to roll out 4G in the West Bank and improve freedom of movement.

After meeting Palestinian authority president Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem, Mr Biden also visited the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

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Biden fist bumps MBS

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met President Joe Biden at the door of the Al Salam Royal Palace, where they will participate in a bilateral meeting with King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud.

The two exchanged a brief fist bump before heading inside for the closed-door meeting.

New York Times White House correspondent Peter Baker notes that the prince was “unsmiling”.

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Biden is eighth president to visit the kingdom

Former CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller notes that Joe Biden is the eighth US president to visit Saudi Arabia.

Both president GHW Bush and GW Bush visited twice, and Barack Obama was in the kingdom a surprising four times during his eight years in office.

And who could forget this moment from Donald Trump’s 2017 visit?

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Biden greeted on arrival in Jeddah

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Biden lands in Saudi Arabia after historic flight

President Joe Biden on Friday arrived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for two days of meetings with Saudi officials and leaders from across the Gulf region, less than one day after the kingdom announced it would open its’ airspace to all carriers, including those departing from Israel.

Mr Biden arrived aboard Air Force One at 5.53 pm local time, just under two hours after taking off from Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. The president’s plane was the second-ever flight to travel directly from Israel to Saudi Arabia, the first such flight having been made by a charter plane carrying the White House press corps several hours earlier.

The president is set to spend the remainder of his day on Friday meeting with Saudi leaders, including King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Andrew Feinberg reports.

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Hamas rejects Biden’s sympathy for Palestinians

Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers on Friday dismissed President Joe Biden’s expressions of sympathy for the Palestinians, calling the United States “a partner in the aggression on our people.”

They also criticised President Mahmoud Abbas for meeting with Biden and reiterating his support for a peace process with Israel. Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said “it’s strange” that the Palestinian leader “extends his hand for peace with the occupation.”

Hamas and other Palestinian factions held a small protest against Biden’s visit on Thursday.

Hamas, which rejects Israel’s existence, seized power from Abbas’ forces in Gaza after defeating his secular Fatah party in elections more than 15 years ago. Abbas cancelled the first elections since then last year, when it appeared Fatah was heading for another crushing defeat.

Abbas supports negotiations with Israel leading to the establishment of a Palestinian state in east Jerusalem, the occupied West Bank and Gaza. The last serious, substantive peace talks collapsed more than a decade ago, and Israel today is dominated by parties opposed to Palestinian statehood.

Biden reiterated his support for a two-state solution during his visit to the region and pledged some $300 million in aid to the Palestinians, but acknowledged that “the ground is not ripe” for a return to direct negotiations.

AP

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No immediate announcement on oil production expected after Saudi trip

National security adviser Jake Sullivan says not to expect an immediate announcement on increasing oil production following President Joe Biden’s meetings in Saudi Arabia.

Officials have said an announcement on upping production could potentially happen in the coming weeks.

“I don’t think you should expect a particular announcement here bilaterally because we believe any further action taken to ensure that there is sufficient energy to protect the health of the global economy will be done in the context of OPEC+.”

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Statement by President Biden welcoming the opening of Saudi Airspace to Israel

Per the White House:

Saudi Arabia’s historic decision to open its airspace for all civilian planes, including those flying to and from Israel, is an important step towards building a more integrated and stable Middle East region. While this opening has long been discussed, now, thanks to months of steady diplomacy between my Administration and Saudi Arabia, it is finally a reality. Today, I will be the first president of the United States to fly from Israel to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. As we mark this important moment, Saudi Arabia’s decision can help build momentum toward Israel’s further integration into the region, including with Saudi Arabia. I will do all that I can, through direct diplomacy and leader-to-leader engagement, to keep advancing this groundbreaking process.

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Ilhan Omar says Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia ‘sends wrong message’

Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota criticised President Joe Biden’s upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia, saying it sends the wrong message about the United States’s position on human rights.

Eric Garcia reports from Washington, DC.

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Biden boards Air Force One for historic flight

President Joe Biden has boarded Air Force One for a historic first direct flight from Israel to Saudi Arabia by a US President.

<p>Joe Biden gives a salute before boarding Air Force One to depart Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport on 15 July 2022</p>

Joe Biden gives a salute before boarding Air Force One to depart Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport on 15 July 2022

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In pictures: Biden’s visit to the West Bank

<p>President Joe Biden is received by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas during a welcome ceremony at the Palestinian Muqataa Presidential Compound in the city of Bethlehem</p>

President Joe Biden is received by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas during a welcome ceremony at the Palestinian Muqataa Presidential Compound in the city of Bethlehem

<p>An image of slain Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh is placed on a chair at the leaders’ joint news conference</p>

An image of slain Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh is placed on a chair at the leaders’ joint news conference

<p>President Joe Biden arrives for a visit at the Church of the Nativity, traditionally believed to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, at the West Bank town of Bethlehem</p>

President Joe Biden arrives for a visit at the Church of the Nativity, traditionally believed to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, at the West Bank town of Bethlehem

<p>A man holds a photo of slain Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during a protest at Dheisheh refugee camp, near Bethlehem</p>

A man holds a photo of slain Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during a protest at Dheisheh refugee camp, near Bethlehem