Biden presses Saudis on Khashoggi murder and laughs off fist bump criticism – live

Biden says US would use force as ‘last resort’ to prevent Iranian nuclear weapons

Joe Biden is on the defensive as his Middle East trip continues in Saudi Arabia. This portion of the trip is intended to reset the US-Saudi relationship

The president laughed off criticism that he shouldn’t have fist-bumped the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), who is believed to have ordered the gruesome 2018 murder of Saudi dissident and The Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi.

Mr. Biden told reporters on Friday he pressed MBS about the “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.

Rep Ilhan Omar says the trip to the kingdom “sends the wrong message to everyone who cares about human rights”.

Ahead of the visit, Israel and Saudi Arabia took an important step towards normalizing relations with an agreement on flights and Red Sea islands.

Before flying to Jeddah, the president reaffirmed US support for “two states for two peoples” while in the West Bank. However, he acknowledged that the “ground is not ripe” to restart Israeli-Palestinian talks.

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As Biden visits Saudi Arabia, many still targeted by official clampdown

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s reputation as a brazen leader who has ruthlessly silenced critics and dissent will cast a shadow over his meeting on Friday with US President Joe Biden.

The royal has sidelined top princes who could pose a threat and oversee Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. The 2018 killing of Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul still looms large — although the prince is credited with pushing through once-unthinkable changes, allowing women to drive and travel freely, permitting concerts, opening movie theaters and de-fanging the once- feared religious police.

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ICYMI: Biden secures deal on Red Sea islands and Israeli use of Saudi airspace

It was reported on Thursday that President Joe Biden helped cement an agreement between Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt that would resolve a long-standing dispute over a pair of islands in the Red Sea and allow Israeli aircraft to transit through Saudi airspace for the first time. in history.

According to Axios, the agreement would allow the Saudis to take full control of Tiran and Sanafir islands, which have been a demilitarized zone since Egypt and Israel signed the 1979 peace treaty negotiated with the help of then-president Jimmy Carter.

Mr. Biden later issued the following statement before flying to Saudi Arabia on Friday:

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 towards 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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Biden hails Trump-era Abraham Accords during trip to Israel

President Joe Biden on Thursday offered a wholehearted endorsement to the Abraham Accords, a series of normalization agreements between Israel and several Middle East monarchies brokered during the Trump administration. Mr. Biden added that he would work to expand the efforts under his predecessor to deepen ties between Israel and its neighbors.

“We will also continue building on the Abraham Accords, which I strongly support because they deepen, they deepen Israel’s integration into the broader region and establish lasting ties for business, cooperation, and tourism,” Mr. Biden said during a press conference alongside Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid.

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US ‘not going to wait forever’ for Iran to reenter nuclear agreement

President Joe Biden on Thursday warned that the negotiations meant to bring Iran back into the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear agreement cannot be allowed to drag on indefinitely.

Speaking at a press conference alongside Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, Mr. Biden was asked if he’d set a deadline for when he might walk away from the talks, which the US is hoping will re-start the agreement which former president Donald Trump walked. away from in 2018.

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Khashoggi fiancee criticizes Biden visit

Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, described Joe Biden’s decision to visit Saudi Arabia as “heartbreaking,” accusing the US president of backing down from his pledge of prioritizing human rights.

In an interview with The Associated Press in Istanbul a day before Biden travels to Saudi Arabia Friday to meet with the crown prince, Cengiz said Biden should press Saudi Arabia — a country that she described as a “terrible ally” — to embrace human rights. agenda. She also wants Biden to seek more answers from Saudi authorities about what happened to Khashoggi’s remains.

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Biden says he’ll take action on climate change if Senate bill fails

President Joe Biden said that he would take executive action on climate change if Democrats’ proposed spending bill does not include clean energy provisions, but he did not mention Senator Joe Manchin, who has been vocal about his opposition to a larger bill including climate provisions. and tax increases.

The president is currently traveling in the Middle East while Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer negotiates with Mr. Manchin.

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Biden’s weekend schedule

All times Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

11am The president participates in a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi of Iraq

11.40am The president participates in a bilateral meeting with President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi of Egypt

12.15pm The president participates in a bilateral meeting with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates.

12.45pm The president attends a GCC +3 Leaders Welcome Reception

12.55pm The president participates in a family photo with GCC +3 leaders

1.15pm The president attends the GCC +3 Summit Meeting

3pm The president participates in a working lunch

4.45pm The president departs Jeddah, Saudi Arabia en route Mildenhall, United Kingdom, for a refueling stop before proceeding on to Washington, DC, with expected arrival time of 12.40am ET on Sunday.

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Biden hints at news about oil prices during speech from Saudi Arabia

Joe Biden is hinting that a major announcement could come from the Saudis in regards to the oil supply in the coming weeks.

The president said on Friday he had a “good discussion” with the Saudis, who “share that urgency” to address oil supply and gas price issues that have challenged the US and beyond.

“Based on our discussion today, I expect we’ll see further steps in coming weeks,” he said during remarks from Jeddah.

John Bowden has a preview of what that might look like.

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More on the moment reporter asked MBS to apologize to Khashoggi family

Peter Alexander, NBC News’ chief White House correspondent, was the reporter who shouted the questions to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as to whether he would apologize to the family of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

According to Mr. Alexander and other reporters in the room, the crown prince kept his eyes down and a smile crossed his face.

The White House press pool was given access to an extended portion of the meeting between President Joe Biden and MBS and their advisers.

Microphones at the meeting table were not turned on and the press was kept at a distance making it difficult to hear what the two men said.

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In pictures: Biden meets with Saudi leaders at Al Salam Royal Palace

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, President Joe Biden, and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

(EPA)

President Joe Biden participates in a bilateral meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

(REUTERS)

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud greets President Joe Biden

(EPA)

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and President Joe Biden at Al Salman Royal Palace in Jeddah

(via Reuters)

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