President Joe Biden formally invited the leader of the United Arab Emirates to the United States by the end of the year as he kicked off day two in Saudi Arabia with a trio of meetings with Arab leaders.
‘Challenges you face today only make it a heck of a lot more important we spend time together,’ he told UAE President Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. ‘I want to formally invite you to the States.’
The Sheik, who assumed office in May, conceded that he was new to the job, but working hard.
The 79-year-old Biden, who won his first federal election in 1972, joked that he was new too, getting a laugh from the Sheik.
The UAE is part of the ‘I2U2’ that met partially in-person and part virtually on Thursday, while Biden was holding meetings with Israel’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid – part of the president’s four day trip to the Middle East.
The I2U2 consists of the United States, Israel, the UAE and India.
UAE’s President Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and India’s Narendra Modi Narendra participated virtually.
But UAE’s leader met in-person with Biden in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia Saturday as part of the GCC + 3 – bringing together leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman – as well as the heads of state of the United States, Egypt and Iraq.
Biden will again be face-to-face with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as the leaders take a ‘family photo’ together – and spend the afternoon in meetings.
On Friday, after Biden became the first U.S. president to fly between Tel Aviv, Isreal and the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah, Biden greeted MBS with a fist-bump, a gesture that received criticism from allies of slain Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
President Joe Biden (right) formally invited United Arab Emirates President Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (left) to the United States when they met Friday afternoon in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
A handout photo of President Joe Biden (left) fist-bumping Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (right) as he arrived for a meeting with the controversial royal Friday evening in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
President Joe Biden said Friday night that he brought up the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in his meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
In remarks to reporters after his meeting with the Saudis, Biden insisted that he brought up the gruesome murder of Khashoggi, a Saudi-born critic of the kingdom who lived in the United States.
‘In respect to the murder of Khashoggi, I raised it at the top of the meeting, making it clear what I thought of it at the time, and what I think of it now,’ Biden said. ‘I was straightforward and direct … I made my view crystal clear.’
‘What happened to Khashoggi was outrageous,’ Biden later offered.
But when questioned about criticism of the fist bump by a DailyMail.com reporter, Biden laughed and then said it was a ‘silly question’ when asked how he can be sure another murder like that of Khashoggi wouldn’t happen again.
Fred Ryan, the publisher and CEO of The Washington Post – which employed Khashoggi – called Biden’s fist bump with the crown prince ‘shameful.’
‘The fist bump between President Biden and Mohammed bin Salman was worse than a handshake – it was shameful,’ Ryan said in a statement. ‘It projected a level of intimacy and comfort that delivers to MBS the unwarranted redemption he has been desperately seeking.’
Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancée, shared what she believed her late love’s reaction would be to the fist bump: ‘Is this the accountability you promised for my murder? The blood of MBS’s next victims is on your hands.’
President Joe Biden (right) kicked off his second day in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with a bilateral meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi (left)
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi speaks during a meeting with President Joe Biden in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Saturday
President Joe Biden’s (right) second meeting was with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi (left)
Biden was also read Cengiz’s comments by a reporter, who then asked for the president’s response.
‘I’m sorry she feels that way,’ the president answered. ‘I was straightforward back then. I was straightforward today.’
Prior to inviting UAE’s president to the U.S., Biden met with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
Biden talked about Iraq’s move to democracy in his meeting with the wartorn country’s leader.
‘I want the press and you to know we want to be helpful as we can in doing that,’ the president told reporters in the room.
Later in a readout of the meeting, the White House said the leaders ‘reaffirmed the importance of forming a new Iraqi government responsive to the will of the Iraqi people and their respect for Iraq’s democracy and independence.’
‘President Biden underscored the importance the United States places on a stable, united, sovereign, and prosperous Iraq, to include Iraq’s Kurdistan region,’ the readout said.
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk