US President Joe Biden has defended his plan to visit Saudi Arabia by saying engagement with Riyadh is paramount for countering “Russia’s aggression,” achieving “greater stability” in the Middle East, and ensuring Washington’s ability to “outcompete China.”
In an op-ed published in the Washington Post on Saturday evening, Biden directly responded to the critics of the trip, saying that while human rights issues are always on the agenda, his job is to keep the US “strong and secure” and a “more secure and integrated Middle East benefits Americans in many ways.”
“We have to counter Russia’s aggression, put ourselves in the best possible position to outcompete China, and work for greater stability in a consequential region of the world. To do these things, we have to engage directly with countries that can impact those outcomes,” Biden wrote, adding that Saudi Arabia is one of those nations.
The president listed some practical benefits of “reorienting” relations “with a country that’s been a strategic partner for 80 years.”
“Its waterways are essential to global trade and the supply chains we rely on. Its energy resources are vital for mitigating the impact on global supplies of Russia’s war in Ukraine,” the American leader said, revealing that oil-rich Saudi Arabia is now working with US experts “to help stabilize oil markets with other OPEC producers.”