Biden holds working session with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah

AFP , Friday 15 Jul 2022

US President Joe Biden participated in a working session with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and top Saudi officials on Friday evening at Salam Palace in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah.

Working session
President Joe Biden participates in a working session with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the Al Salman Royal Palace, Friday, July 15, 2022, in Jeddah. AP


Earlier in the evening, the crown prince welcomed the US president as he arrived at the royal palace to start a visit to the Gulf kingdom that is intended to reset their countries' longstanding partnership.

This was the first meeting between the crown prince and the US president since Biden took office in early 2021.

President Biden held a meeting with Saudi King Salman bin Abdel-Aziz at the palace before the start of the working session with the crown prince.

Earlier on Friday, Biden emerged from Air Force One on Friday, minutes after landing in Saudi Arabia and walked along a lavender carpet past a sword-bearing honor cordon.

The subdued arrival ceremony in Jeddah featured no formal program.

The president was greeted upon arrival by Mecca's governor, Prince Khalid bin Faisal, and Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to the US, Princess Reema bint Bandar.

Biden is the first US president to fly directly from Israel to Saudi Arabia, on the last leg of his tour of the Middle East.

The US president is set to participate in a summit to be held in Jeddah and bring together the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, in addition to Egypt, Iraq and Jordan.

The Arab-US summit is expected to tackle regional issues of concern and mechanisms of enhancing joint work to achieve stability in the region.

Saudi Arabia announced earlier Friday it was lifting restrictions on "all carriers" using its airspace, an apparent gesture of openness towards Israel hours before Biden's arrival.

The Saudi civil aviation authority "announces the decision to open the Kingdom's airspace for all air carriers that meet the requirements of the authority for overflying", it said in a statement.

The decision was made "to complement the Kingdom's efforts aimed at consolidating the Kingdom's position as a global hub connecting three continents".

Biden said in a statement later Friday that Riyadh's move came "thanks to months of steady diplomacy between my administration and 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," Biden said.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid thanked Biden on Friday for "long, intense and secret diplomatic negotiations between Saudi Arabia and the United States" to reach a deal on overflights.

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