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JEDDAH: While many Western media outlets were busy with the “punching” topic, a series of important findings from US President Joe Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia went mostly unreported.
Saudi Arabia was the final leg of Biden’s four-day trip to the Middle East, which began July 13 in Israel and Palestine.
As part of the bilateral agreements signed between the two parties, Biden reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to helping Saudi Arabia defend its territory and its people against external attacks, especially those launched by the Houthis supported by the government. Iran to Yemen.
The two sides made several joint commitments to the wider region, including an agreement to maintain and extend the UN-brokered truce in Yemen and engage in a diplomatic process to reach a broader settlement of the conflict.
Biden hailed Saudi Arabia’s commitment to the truce, which saw the resumption of direct commercial flights from Sanaa to Amman and Cairo and financial support for Yemen’s Presidential Council to improve basic services and economic stability. Yemenis.
The two sides agreed to intensify their efforts to preserve the free flow of trade and deter illicit smuggling into Yemen through the region’s strategic waterways by expanding their joint naval operations focused on the Red Sea and the Strait of Bab Al- Mandab.
Elsewhere in the Middle East, the two sides have agreed that peacekeepers, including US soldiers, will leave Tiran Island by the end of the year, after which the island will be developed for tourist.
Since shortly after the Camp David Accords of 1978, American troops have served as peacekeepers on the island of Tiran as part of the Multinational Force and observers under the peace treaty signed between Israel and Egypt .
As part of its Vision 2030 program to become a regional travel and entertainment hub and in line with the principles of the 1944 Chicago Convention, Saudi Arabia announced its decision to allow all civil air carriers to fly over its airspace.
The two sides also agreed to extend the validity of visas to 10 years for nationals of the two countries to visit for business and tourism.
On the technology front, Saudi and U.S. officials agreed to pursue several major infrastructure projects, including a new bilateral framework for cooperation on 5G — using open, virtualized, cloud-based radio access networks — and the development of 6G.
Saudi Arabia has pledged a significant investment for the project as part of the Global Infrastructure and Investment Partnership, announced by Biden at the G7 summit in June.
The Kingdom’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology has signed a memorandum of understanding with IBM to train 100,000 young Saudis over a five-year period.
A key element of Biden’s visit was energy security in light of the war in Ukraine and the resulting Western embargoes on Russian oil and gas. The two sides agreed to expand cooperation on energy security, with Saudi officials pledging to support the balance of the global oil market.
US officials welcomed the Saudi commitment to increase oil production by 50% compared to what was planned for July and August. Nevertheless, the Saudi Crown Prince has made it clear that the Kingdom will not increase monthly production beyond 13 million barrels.
“Saudi Arabia’s oil policy has been to try to strike a balance in the energy markets, to ensure that the markets are properly supplied and that there is no shortage “, said Adel Al-Jubeir, Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. Arab News in an exclusive interview during Biden’s visit.
In order to meet market demands, Saudi Arabia “will continue to assess market needs and make decisions based on those needs.”
In line with the two countries’ commitment to reduce carbon emissions, they agreed on a new clean energy cooperation framework, including solar, green hydrogen and nuclear, with new investments Saudis to accelerate the energy transition and fight against the effects of climate change.
The partnership will leverage public and private sector collaboration to advance the deployment of clean energy solutions while accelerating research, development and demonstration of innovative technologies to decarbonize the global economy and achieve net zero.
The United States welcomed Saudi Arabia’s support for the Global Infrastructure and Investment Partnership, which aims to strategically invest in projects that support digital connectivity, supply chain sustainability and climate security. and energy focused on low- and middle-income countries.
He also welcomed the leading role played by Saudi Arabia in strengthening relations with Iraq, including the commitment to connect the electricity grids of Saudi Arabia and the countries of the Cooperation Council of the Gulf to the Iraqi grid in order to provide it with diversified energy sources and wean it off dependence on Iran. .
The dialogue also resulted in the signing of two bilateral cybersecurity agreements with the National Cybersecurity Authority of Saudi Arabia, one with the FBI and the other with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency of Saudi Arabia. Department of Homeland Security.
The two sides will expand their cooperation, share information on threats and activities of malicious actors to strengthen their common defense, and collaborate on best practices, technologies, tools and approaches in cybersecurity training and education.
They agreed to expand cooperation in space exploration, including human spaceflight, Earth observation, business and regulatory development, and responsible behavior in outer space.
As part of the agreement, Saudi Arabia signed the Artemis Accords and reaffirmed its commitment to the responsible, peaceful and sustainable exploration and use of outer space.
The two countries also welcomed a new agreement between their respective Ministries of Health to share information, build capacity, collaborate on disease surveillance, address the health issues of women and populations with special needs and Pursue public policies focused on disease prevention and health promotion.
Saudi Arabia welcomed the increase in mutual investments in defence, renewable energy, manufacturing, health, technology and innovation, which contribute to job creation and location goals.
The new deals include investments from Boeing, Raytheon, Medtronic and Digital Diagnostics, and IKVIA in healthcare, and many other US companies in energy, tourism, education, manufacturing and textiles.
Other agreements include Saudi Aramco Energy projects in recycled thermal plastics in the United States, agreements for the development and implementation of data and health technology solutions, as well as the localization of the procurement for medical device technologies in Saudi Arabia.
“The joint statement that was issued following the bilateral meetings between the leaders of the two countries highlighted the many issues on which our policies align and on which we are working closely,” said Fahad Nazer, spokesperson. from the Saudi Embassy in Washington, to Arab News.
The text of these agreements will likely be dissected in the coming weeks, not only by Middle East pundits but also by malign actors in the region and Washington’s strategic competitors for their full geopolitical ramifications as well as their symbolic significance.
Nazer explained the importance of the visit this way: “The fact that President Biden visited Saudi Arabia on his first trip to the Middle East speaks to both the strength of the strategic bilateral relationship and the role of important leadership that Saudi Arabia is playing. both regional and global.
The officials say the bilateral agreements signed by the two delegations in Jeddah will set the tone for future Saudi-US relations.
“The two countries have been allies and partners for eight decades. They have huge interests at stake, and they have huge challenges that they are working together to tackle,” Al-Jubeir said.
He stressed that Biden’s visit symbolized “in very clear terms the importance of the relationship, the importance of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United States and to global peace and security.”