White House lauds Saudi Arabia as ‘strategic partner’
“[US President Joe Biden] believes that engagement with Saudi leaders clearly meets that test, as has every president before,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
The White House spoke highly of Saudi Arabia on Tuesday in a tone that was noticeably more amicable than previous comments by Biden administration officials over the last year.
Ties between Washington and Riyadh have soured since the election of US President Joe Biden in January 2021. But the Russian invasion of Ukraine and other geopolitical developments have seen Biden administration officials look to ease the relationship, especially after Saudi Arabia rebuffed US calls to increase their oil output.
“Saudi Arabia has been a strategic partner of the United States for eight decades. Every president since FDR [Franklin Delano Roosevelt] has met with Saudi leaders and the president [Biden] considers Saudi Arabia an important partner on a host of regional and global strategies,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
Speaking during a White House press briefing, Jean-Pierre cited Saudi Arabia’s help in efforts US efforts to end the war in Yemen, contain Iran and counter terrorism.
“Saudi pilots flew with ours in the war against ISIS, its navy patrols with ours in the Red Sea and the Gulf, and the US military personnel are based in Saudi Arabia,” she said.
Biden was expected to travel to Saudi Arabia later this month to meet with top Saudi officials, including King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. But his schedule was never finalized and it is now anticipated that he will make the trip in July along with a stop in Israel.
Mostly progressive Democrats have pushed back against attempts to repair frayed ties between the US and Saudi Arabia, but Jean-Pierre said that Biden would meet with any leader if it served the interests of the American people. “He believes that engagement with Saudi leaders clearly meets that test, as has every president before,” she said.
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