There have been no statements regarding the US president’s visit to Qatar, which hosts the region’s largest military base.
US President Joe Biden is scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia for a high-profile summit with the GCC, where he is expected to meet with leaders of the bloc, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre announced on Tuesday.
As part of a regional tour that kicks off in Israel between 13 and 16 July, President Biden will be attending a GCC+3 summit in Riyadh.
Egypt, Iraq and Jordan will be the three non-GCC states in attendance.
“He will also meet with counterparts from across the region, to advance US security, economic, and diplomatic interests,” said the White House official.
While the Washington statement says the nine regional leaders will be present, authorities in Qatar have yet to announce whether Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani will be in Riyadh for the meeting.
Similarly, no announcement have been made on a Biden stopover in Qatar, which hosts the region’s largest military base.
“While in Saudi Arabia, the president will discuss a range of bilateral, regional, and global issues. These include support to the UN-mediated truce in Yemen,” said the White House.
The statement added that “deterring threats from Iran, advancing human rights, and ensuring global energy and food security” will be on the agenda.
Speaking to the press, Jean-Pierre said there is a possibility that President Biden will meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, despite criticism from rights groups worldwide.
Human rights advocates have pointed towards contradicting statements made by Biden with regards to the 2018 killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, of which MBS has been implicated, as per CIA findings.
Separately, a 2019 UN investigation concluded that the crime was a “premeditated extrajudicial execution”.
In an interview with MSNBC on Tuesday, US National Security Council official John Kirby said that “human rights are always on the agenda”. The statement was a response to a comment on whether Khashoggi’s killing would be raised in the meeting between Biden and MBS.
President Biden’s tour will begin in Israel with the aim “to reinforce the US’ iron-clad commitment to Israel’s security and prosperity” through meetings with Tel Aviv officials, Jean-Pierre said.
Washington is Tel Aviv’s main ally, pumping $3.8 billion into its economy, in turn enabling it to continue its illegal occupation of Palestine. Despite this, President Biden will discuss “equal measures of security and freedom” for the Palestinian people in a meeting with Palestine’s President Mahmoud Abbas.
The US president has recently come under fire for failing to push for an independent investigation into the deliberate killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.
Abu Akleh was shot and killed by an Israeli occupation forces sniper, who aimed at a precise area that was not covered by the helmet she was wearing at the time. Despite admitting to the crime, the Zionist state maintained that the murder was unintentional.
However, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week called for an “independent” probe into the murder after previously demanding mere “transparency”.
“We are looking for an independent, credible investigation. When that investigation happens, we will follow the facts wherever they lead,” said Blinken, without clarifying which party or group should conduct this probe.
The White House’s latest statement on the Biden trip failed to mention whether the killing of Abu Akleh would be raised in the president’s meeting with Israeli officials.