US hails Saudi leadership on extension of truce in Yemen

The White House commends King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for their role in extending the ceasefire in the Yemen war ahead of President Biden’s scheduled visit to Riyadh.

“We specifically acknowledge the leadership of King Salman and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia for helping to cement the truce,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. (AP)

The White House has taken a rare step in acknowledging Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s role in extending a ceasefire in Yemen ahead of what is expected to be a trip to Riyadh by President Joe Biden.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Thursday that bin Salman and Saudi King Salman deserved credit for their role in extending the truce in the war in Yemen.

“This truce would not be possible without the cooperative diplomacy of the entire region. We specifically acknowledge the leadership of King Salman and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia for helping to cement the truce,” she said.

As recently as Wednesday, the White House said Biden still believes the crown prince is an ‘outcast’ for what US intelligence has called his role in the murder and dismemberment of a political opponent and journalist. of the Washington Post Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey in 2018.

Khashoggi’s murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul has tarnished the crown prince’s image as a reformist. The Saudi government has denied any involvement on his part.

Sources close to the process say Biden is planning a trip to Saudi Arabia in conjunction with a trip to Europe and Israel in late June.

READ MORE:
UN: warring parties in Yemen agree to renew two-month truce

Visiting the kingdom amid high gas prices

The visit is said to be aimed at strengthening relations with Saudi Arabia at a time when Biden is trying to find ways to lower gasoline prices in the United States.

Biden would attend a Riyadh summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a regional union whose members are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, sources said.

Jean-Pierre did not confirm that Biden’s trip was planned, but said, “What the president is primarily focused on is how his engagements with foreign leaders advance American interests. That’s as true with Saudi Arabia as anywhere else.”

A senior White House official said Biden is seeking opportunities to meet with leaders in the Middle East and will do so “if he determines it is in the interests of the United States … and that a such commitment can yield results”.

“There is no doubt that – as with many countries where we share interests – we have concerns about his human rights record and his past conduct, much of which predates our administration. And we bring those concerns to them, as we do with others,” the official said.

The official said that “there are also strategic priorities that are important to address, and our contacts and our diplomacy have intensified recently and this will continue.”

OPEC+’s decision to increase oil production by 200,000 barrels in July and August, a move hailed by the White House, has further boosted prospects for a Biden trip.

READ MORE: First commercial flight in 6 years takes off from Yemen’s capital

Source: Reuters

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