US President Joe Biden (center) is welcomed by Israeli President Isaac Herzog (left) and caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid upon his arrival at Ben Gurion Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, on July 13, 2022. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
JERUSALEM – US President Joe Biden landed in Israel on Wednesday afternoon, opening his first visit to the Middle East as president, during which he will hold talks with officials of Israel, Palestine, and Saudi Arabia.
Biden was welcomed in an official ceremony at the Ben Gurion Airport outside Tel Aviv by Israeli President Issac Herzog, Prime Minister Yair Lapid, ministers and lawmakers.
Biden was welcomed in an official ceremony at the Ben Gurion Airport outside Tel Aviv by Israeli President Issac Herzog, Prime Minister Yair Lapid, ministers and lawmakers
He received a security briefing at the airport on Israel's anti-rocket Iron Dome system and Iron Beam, a newly-developed laser-based air defense system.
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In joint remarks, Lapid said that Biden is "one of the best friends Israel has ever known."
"We will discuss building a new security and economy architecture with the nations of the Middle East, following the Abraham Accords," Lapid said, adding "we will discuss the need to renew a strong global coalition that will stop the Iranian nuclear program."
For his part, Biden said the connection between Israel and the United States "is bone-deep," adding that he will work during his trip to advance Israel's integration in the region.
He will later go to Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, for a wreath-laying ceremony to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust during War World II.
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He will spend two days in Jerusalem before traveling to the West Bank to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday.
On Friday afternoon, he will fly to Saudi Arabia for talks with Saudi officials, where he will also participate in a summit with officials from regional countries.
Israel hopes that the visit will help to warm up ties with Saudi Arabia amid growing concerns over Iran's activities in the region and its nuclear program.
Biden is also expected to try to persuade Saudi Arabia to increase oil production amid the crisis in Ukraine.
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