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Biden meets with Israeli leaders in Jerusalem on day two of Middle East tour

#Biden #meets #Israeli #leaders #Jerusalem #day #Middle #East #tour

US President Joe Biden is set to hold bilateral talks with Israeli officials in Jerusalem on Thursday, where the two allies are expected to declare a “united stance” on common enemy Iran.

Biden landed in Tel Aviv on Wednesday for the first Middle East tour of his presidency, during which he will meet Israeli and Palestinian leaders before flying on to Saudi Arabia.

Tehran will be high on the agenda of talks scheduled for Thursday, according to Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, while a senior official said the two leaders would sign a joint statement.

The document “will be a living testament to the unique quality, health, scope, depth and intimacy of the US-Israel relationship,” the Israeli official said on condition of anonymity.

“It takes a very clear and unified stance on Iran, its nuclear program and its aggression across the region,” the official added.

Israel is firmly opposed to a nuclear deal Tehran signed with world powers in 2015 that Biden is trying to get back on track after his predecessor, Donald Trump, withdrew US support.

Biden said pulling out of the landmark deal was a “giant mistake.”

Iran is “closer to having a nuclear weapon now than before,” the president said in an interview broadcast by Israel’s Channel 12 on Wednesday.

Asked whether the US would use force to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, Biden said, “If that were a last resort, yes.”

The President’s meeting with Lapid will be followed by multilateral investment talks with India and the United Arab Emirates, which will follow remotely.

– Saudi Oil Talks –

In addition to meeting Israeli President Isaac Herzog, Biden will hold brief talks with Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

The former prime minister is preparing for another election campaign in which Israelis will go to the polls on November 1 for the fifth time in less than four years.

Biden is celebrating his tenth visit to Israel and is well acquainted with Netanyahu.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will remain a top priority for the Biden administration during his regional tour, with volatile oil prices set to be the focus of talks with Saudi officials.

The president will try to persuade Riyadh to pump more oil to bring down prices that have pushed US inflation to its highest level in decades.

Israel has largely remained on the sidelines in the Ukraine war and wary of Russia’s military presence in neighboring Syria.

Israeli officials have generally condemned the conflict, but the government has refused to send arms to the Ukrainian army.

With Israel in political limbo ahead of the election, Biden Lapid is unlikely to push for any major policy changes regarding the Palestinians.

The president on Wednesday renewed Washington’s longstanding call for a two-state solution, but has not reversed Trump’s controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Biden is scheduled to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem on Friday in the occupied West Bank and promise financial support from the United States.

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