President Joe Biden has become the first US leader to fly directly from Israel to Saudi Arabia, signalling warming ties between the Middle East nations as they find common cause against regional threats from Iran.
ir Force One landed in Jeddah ahead of planned meetings with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto leader of the kingdom.
US intelligence officials have determined the crown prince, often referred to by his initials MBS, likely ordered the 2018 killing of US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
During his 2020 campaign for the White House, Mr Biden had pledged to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” because of Mr Khashoggi’s killing and other human rights abuses.
He now seeks closer ties with the kingdom to bolster security in the region as Iran’s nuclear development continues unabated, and to secure additional energy supplies amid global tightening due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Mr Biden’s visit to the Red Sea port city will include his participation in a meeting of the six Gulf Cooperation Council nations — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — as well as Egypt, Iraq and Jordan.
Earlier on Friday, Saudi Arabia opened its air space to “all air carriers,” signalling the end of its long-standing ban on Israeli flights overflying its territory — a key step toward normalisation between the two nations.