Joe Biden greeted Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with a fist bump on Friday, opening a controversial summit that many of the US president’s critics, including from within his own party, considered a moral retreat. do
How the two leaders will greet each other has become an issue of widespread scrutiny in the lead-up to Biden’s first trip to the Middle East, which began in Israel on Wednesday. One of the central questions surrounding Biden’s decision to visit Saudi Arabia was whether he would shake hands with the crown prince, whom U.S. intelligence had concluded was a defector journalist in Turkey in 2018 and The brutal murder of American resident Jamal Khashoggi was approved.
White House officials pushed back on speculation that Biden’s decision to greet his Israeli hosts with fist bumps and other hand gestures was a pretext to avoid a diplomatic blunder upon arrival in Saudi Arabia. did the work
“We’ve never guided that there’s no handshake or anything,” a senior administration official told reporters traveling with the president on Thursday. As President Biden often does — of sorts.”
“The president is going to meet with a lot of leaders during these three days,” the official added, “so there will be a lot of meetings, and we will follow protocol in every capital where we will be.”
The president had previously vowed to relegate Saudi Arabia to a “pariah” state because of its dismal human rights record.
But that was during the 2020 presidential campaign, before the U.S. faced soaring oil prices that have dramatically affected Americans already suffering from massive inflation on household goods. Biden now faces fierce criticism from Republican politicians, in particular, who are eager to capitalize on what they consider poor economic policies ahead of this fall’s midterm elections.
Biden offered an earlier defense of the trip earlier this week, noting in a campaign ad that he highlighted a number of accomplishments as well as his new goals for the region, including How will they help bring down oil prices that have been skyrocketing? Gas pumps in America and Europe.
Saudi Arabia has “helped restore unity among the six countries of the [Gulf Cooperation Council],” he wrote of the influential economic bloc, “and is now working with its experts to help other OPEC producers can help stabilize oil markets.”
“It was really interesting that they would offer this,” Karen Young, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, said this week. OPEC has not asked the administration to hire an outside consultant at the White House.
Several other analysts expressed pessimism that any outcome of Friday’s meetings could cause a change in oil prices, while also acknowledging that Biden and Saudi Arabia may have a long-term strategy that But they want to act.