Joe Biden became the first US president to fly directly from Israel to Saudi Arabia on Friday.
He is meeting with Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The trip comes after Biden called Saudi Arabia a “pariah” state during the primaries leading to the 2020 presidential election. Biden’s comments as a candidate came nearly a year after Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated.
Salman admitted he had some responsibility for Khashoggi’s killing.
Salman and Biden each other not with a formal handshake, but with a fist bump.
— قناة الإخبارية (@alekhbariyatv) July 15, 2022
Hours before landing in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia announced it is opening its airspace to all countries, including flights going to and from Israel. The news was welcomed both in Israel and by the Biden administration.
Biden has defended going on the trip. He authored an op-ed last week in the Washington Post.
“I know that there are many who disagree with my decision to travel to Saudi Arabia,” he said. “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 during this trip, just as they will be in Israel and the West Bank.”