President Biden defended his controversial upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia, part of a wider Middle East trip, in an op-ed published Saturday, saying “we must engage directly” with Saudi Arabia and other countries in order to ensure that the United States is “strong and secure”.
“As president, it is my job to keep our country strong and safe. We must counter Russia’s aggression, put ourselves in the best possible position to outperform China and work for greater stability in a region. important in the world,” he said in his op-ed for The Washington Post.
“To do these things, we need to engage directly with the countries that can impact these outcomes. Saudi Arabia is one of them, and when I meet with Saudi leaders on Friday, my goal will be to strengthen a strategic partnership going forward based on mutual interests and responsibilities, while remaining true to core American values,” he said. he continued.
The president has argued that the landscape in the Middle East has improved since taking office, saying he inherited a less stable region from former President Trump. He chastised Trump for quitting the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, under which the United States and several other world powers agreed to ease sanctions on the Middle Eastern country if it curbs its nuclear program, among other things. measures.
“From the outset, my objective was to redirect — but not to break — relations with a country that has been a strategic partner for 80 years. Today, Saudi Arabia has helped restore unity among the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, has fully supported the truce in Yemen and is now working with my experts to help stabilize oil markets with other OPEC producers,” Biden wrote.
Biden’s remarks come ahead of a planned trip to the Middle East that begins next Wednesday and will see him make stops in Israel, the West Bank and Saudi Arabia. The trip comes as the United States faces high oil prices after it began blocking oil imports from Russia in protest at its invasion of Ukraine.
Some have objected to the president visiting Saudi Arabia in view of the United States. the intelligence finding that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman approved of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as well as other human rights concerns. Biden’s trip and planned meeting with the crown prince marks a sharp reversal of his promise during his campaign for president that he would make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” over Khashoggi’s murder.
“I know that many people disagree with my decision to travel to Saudi Arabia,” Biden said in recognition of the concerns. “My views on human rights are clear and long-standing, and fundamental freedoms are always on the agenda when I travel abroad, as they will be on this trip, just as they will in Israel and the West Bank.