Today, President Biden met in Jeddah with the leaders of Saudi Arabia, our hosts for the upcoming Summit with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Council (GCC) countries plus Egypt, Iraq, and Jordan. In a meeting with King Salman and then an extended working session with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and their respective delegations, the United States and Saudi Arabia finalized a number of international and bilateral agreements that serve the interests of the American people and a more integrated, stable, and prosperous Middle East region.
These results of this meeting include the following:
Removing Peacekeepers from Tiran Island: Since shortly after the 1978 Camp David Accords, U.S. troops have served as peacekeepers on Tiran Island as part of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) under the Treaty of Peace signed between Israel and Egypt. Five Americans were killed on the island in 2020 in a helicopter crash. Tonight, arrangements were finalized to remove the MFO peacekeepers and develop this area – which once sparked multi-state wars in the region – for tourism, development, and peaceful pursuits. Saudi Arabia has agreed to preserve and continue all existing commitments and procedures in the area. President Biden welcomed this arrangement, which was negotiated over many months and fully took into consideration the interests of all parties. The MFO peacekeepers, including U.S. soldiers, will depart Tiran by the end of the year. The MFO will carry out alternative arrangements to ensure the present freedom of navigation to all parties, including Israel.
Opening Saudi Airspace to Civilian Aircraft Flying to and from Israel: To date, civilian aircraft flying to and from Israel, with rare exceptions, could not fly over Saudi Arabia, leading to increased hours of flying time, significant expenses, and unnecessary impact on our climate. Today, President Biden welcomed Saudi Arabia’s decision to expand overflight of Saudi Arabia for all civilian aircraft, including airlines flying to and from Israel, based on the principles of the Chicago Convention of 1944. This was an important step forward towards a more integrated Middle East region, interconnected with the world.
Sustaining the UN-Mediated Truce in Yemen: The two delegations held a detailed discussion of the situation in Yemen, and both committed to taking steps to doing everything possible to extend and strengthen the UN-mediated truce, which has led to fifteen weeks of peace, the quietest period in Yemen in years, and translate it into a durable ceasefire and political process. President Biden reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to help Saudi Arabia protect and defend its territory and people from all external attacks, particularly those launched by the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen. He also welcomed Saudi Arabia’s strong commitment to the truce, particularly leading, in tandem with the Yemen government, efforts to resume direct commercial flights from Sana’a to Amman and Cairo for the first time in seven years. The President also welcomed the Kingdom’s financial support to Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council, which will help improve basic services and economic stability to ease the suffering of Yemenis. This support includes a pledge to provide over $1 billion for development projects and fuel support, in addition to a joint Saudi and Emirati $2 billion deposit to the Central Bank of Yemen.
Support for PGII: President Biden welcomed Saudi Arabia’s plan to strategically invest in projects aligning with U.S. Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII) goals, which the President and G7 leaders unveiled at the June 26, 2022, G7 Summit. Together, the United States and Saudi Arabia will mobilize hundreds of billions of dollars to deliver quality, sustainable infrastructure that makes a difference in people’s lives around the world, strengthens and diversifies our supply chains, creates new opportunities for American workers and businesses, and advances our national security.
New Bilateral Framework for Cooperation on 5G/6G: President Biden welcomed the signing of a new Memorandum of Cooperation between the U.S. National Telecommunication and Information Administration and the Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, which will connect U.S. and Saudi technology companies in the advancement and deployment of 5G using open, virtualized, and cloud-based radio access networks and the development of 6G through similar technologies. The partnerships built under the MOU will also support 5G deployment in Saudi Arabia and in developing and middle-income states thereafter through the PGII. Saudi Arabia has committed to a significant investment for this project under the umbrella of the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment.
New Cooperation on Energy Security: Saudi Arabia has committed to support global oil market balancing for sustained economic growth. The United States has welcomed the increase in production levels 50 percent above what was planned for July and August. These steps and further steps that we anticipate over the coming weeks have and will help stabilize markets considerably.
New Bilateral Framework on Clean Energy Cooperation: President Biden welcomed the signing of a bilateral Partnership Framework for Advancing Clean Energy, with new Saudi investments to accelerate the energy transition and combat the effects of climate change. This Framework focuses particularly on solar, green hydrogen, nuclear, and other clean energy initiatives. By building upon existing collaboration between energy experts in our countries, we seek to enhance our efforts to tackle climate change and advance greater deployment of clean energy resources around the world. 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 needed to decarbonize the global economy and achieve net-zero emissions.
Underscoring Human Rights Concerns: The President underscored the United States’ conviction that respect for and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms promotes stability and strengthens national security. Over the course of the discussion, he raised specific cases of concern. He also raised the egregious murder of Jamal Khashoggi, described the accountability measures the United States has put in place in response, and received commitments with respect to reforms and institutional safeguards in place to guard against any such conduct in the future. The United States will continue to engage in a regular and direct dialogue with Saudi Arabia and other partners on these important issues, and raise our concerns with human rights at every opportunity.
Cybersecurity Cooperation: President Biden welcomed the signing of two bilateral agreements on cybersecurity with Saudi Arabia’s National Cybersecurity Authority – one with the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the other with the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). Through these memoranda of cooperation, the United States and Saudi Arabia will expand their existing bilateral relationship on this critical issue, share information about cybersecurity threats and activities of malicious actors to enhance the shared defense of our nations, and collaborate on best practices, technologies, tools, and on approaches to cybersecurity training and education.
Cooperation in Space Exploration: The U.S. and Saudi Arabia are expanding cooperation in all fields of space exploration, including human spaceflight, earth observation, commercial and regulatory development, and responsible behavior in outer space. President Biden welcomed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia signing the Artemis Accords and reaffirming its commitment to the responsible, peaceful, and sustainable exploration and use of outer space.
Public Health Cooperation: President Biden welcomed a new Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Saudi Ministry of Health to continue strengthening their relationship and working together to solve common health issues. The forthcoming areas of collaboration include health information systems, capacity building in the delivery of health services, disease surveillance, emerging infectious diseases, addressing the health-related concerns of women and special needs populations, and public policies oriented to disease prevention and health promotion.
Enhanced Maritime Security Cooperation: The U.S. and Saudi Arabia reaffirmed their commitment to preserving the free flow of commerce through strategic international waterways like the Bab al-Mandab and the Strait of Hormuz, through which 40 percent of the world’s energy passes every day, through multiple joint naval task forces, including:
- Red Sea: Newly-establish Combined Task Force 153, focused on international maritime security and capacity building efforts.
- Gulf of Oman and North Arabian Sea: Saudi Arabia will soon assume command of Combined Task Force 150, which reinforces shared maritime security objectives.
- Unmanned and AI Integration: Saudi Arabia will soon participate as part of the 5th Fleet’s Task Force 59, which for the first time integrates advanced technologies like unmanned vessels and artificial intelligence to enhance maritime domain awareness.
Integrated Air Defense Cooperation: The two sides reviewed developments in improving air defense integration and protection of Saudi Arabia’s territory and people from external threats, including missiles, drones, and UAVs. This cooperation includes U.S. military support and far-reaching foreign military sales cases with emphasis on defensive systems and advanced technology. The United States affirmed it would accelerate our cooperation with Saudi Arabia and other partners in the region to counter unmanned aerial systems and missiles that threaten the peace and security of the region. President Biden affirmed the United States’ commitment to working with Saudi Arabia and other allies and partners in the Middle East to integrate and enhance security cooperation. In particular, the United States is committed to advancing a more integrated and regionally-networked air and missile defense architecture and countering the proliferation of unmanned aerial systems and missiles to non-state actors that threaten the peace and security of the region.