Kabul: The United States “will not walk away” from the Middle East and leave a vacuum to be filled by Russia, China or Iran, US President Joe Biden has told a summit in Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea city of Jeddah.
Leaders of six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates – plus Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq are holding talks on regional security and bilateral relations with the US at the summit.
His visit to Saudi Arabia was to repair strained ties and make clear to wary Arab leaders that the United States remains committed to their security and the region’s stability.
“We will not walk away and leave a vacuum to be filled by China, Russia or Iran,” Biden said. “We will seek to build on this moment with active, principled, American leadership.” President Joe Biden says the US will remain an active and engaged partner in the Middle East, focusing on regional ties.
Although Biden expressed a renewed commitment to the region by saying “the United States is not going anywhere,” he also seemed to acknowledge its limitations.
The summit, where Biden announced $1 billion in U.S. funding to alleviate hunger in the region, was the final destination on Biden’s four-day trip.
The centerpiece of Biden’s outreach in the Middle East was his first meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia and heir to the throne held by his father, King Salman.
The regional summit in Jeddah and Biden’s visit provided Prince Mohammed with the opportunity to showcase his country’s heavyweight role in the Middle East, and his position at the helm of the world’s largest oil exporter.
He also tried to draw Arab nations onto his side over the invasion of Ukraine by releasing satellite imagery indicating that Russian officials visited Iran in June and July to see weapons-capable drones that it could acquire.
The disclosure appeared aimed at drawing a connection between the war in Europe and Arab leaders’ own concerns about Iran.
Meantime, there are sharp divisions on regional foreign policy among the heads of state who attended the summit.
But before ending his speech at the summit, Biden expressed hopes for a new era of cooperation.