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The road from Jeddah: US and Saudi set out their 19 priorities

President Biden leaves Jeddah after comprehensive talks
  • Jeddah communiqué issued after President Joe Biden’s visit to region
  • Clean energy and space exploration among the key topics discussed
  • 13 US-Saudi investment deals agreed on sidelines of talks

Clean energy, investment deals and space exploration are at the heart of the Jeddah communiqué – the partnership agreement issued by the US and Saudi governments after President Joe Biden’s meeting with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Among the agreements reached during the president’s visit on July 15 and 16 was a deal to extend the validity of business and tourism visas to 10 years to facilitate closer ties and economic cooperation. 

On the sidelines of the talks in the Red Sea city, the Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia (MISA) also facilitated the signing of 13 investment agreements with a range of leading US companies. They covered sectors including energy, aerospace, defence, textiles, manufacturing, education and tourism. 

Four memorandums of understanding were signed in the field of healthcare while others included a partnership between the MISA and aerospace company Boeing in areas relating to aircraft manufacturing, as well as between Saudi’s Ajlan & Bros Holding Group and US smart energy leader SolarEdge to explore investment in renewable energy.

US investment in Saudi Arabia has continued to grow over recent years, with a total of 743 companies present in the kingdom and nearly 70,000 Saudis employed by US companies.

What’s in the Jeddah communiqué?

The Jeddah communiqué sets out Riyadh and Washington’s achievements and priorities in 19 key areas. The statement is below, lightly edited for length and clarity.

Energy security and climate cooperation
The two sides underscored the importance of strategic economic and investment cooperation, particularly in light of the current crisis in Ukraine and its consequences, and reaffirmed their commitment to a stable global energy market.

The US welcomed Saudi Arabia’s commitment to support global oil markets balancing for sustained economic growth. Both sides decided to consult regularly on global energy markets in the near- and long-term, as well as work together as strategic partners in climate and energy transition initiatives.

The US side commended the Saudi Green Initiative and Middle East Green Initiative, and the kingdom’s announcement to meet 50 percent of its electricity generation from renewables by 2030.

The two sides welcomed the finalisation of a Partnership Framework for Advancing Clean Energy, with substantial investments in transition and addressing climate change, with particular focus on renewable energy, clean hydrogen, human capacity-building in the nuclear energy field, and carbon capture.

Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII)
The two sides stressed that the energy transition and the national security of both countries require stable and diversified supply chains.

The US and Saudi Arabia aim to invest in projects that support digital connectivity, supply chain sustainability, and climate and energy security focused on low- and middle-income countries.

Security and defence
President Biden strongly affirmed the US’ continued commitment to supporting Saudi’s security and territorial defence.

The two sides underscored the need to further deter Iran’s interference in the internal affairs of other countries, its support for terrorism through its armed proxies, and its efforts to destabilise the security and stability of the region.

Both countries stressed the importance of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

They also highlighted the importance of preserving the free flow of commerce through strategic international waterways like the Bab al-Mandab and the Strait of Hormuz and welcomed the newly-established Combined Task Force 153 with a focus on the Red Sea’s Bab al-Mandab passageway and further deterring illicit smuggling into Yemen. 

Cooperation between the Royal Saudi Naval Forces and Combined Task Force 153 will be enhanced with growing cooperation between the Royal Saudi Naval Forces and US Fifth Fleet’s Task Force 59 also agreed.

5G/6G open-RAN cooperation
The two sides welcomed a new Memorandum of Cooperation that will connect US and Saudi technology companies in the advancement and deployment of 5G using open radio access networks and enable the development of 6G. 

The US and Saudi Arabia agreed cooperation in the field of cybersecurity and welcomed the recent signing of memoranda of understanding to strengthen real-time information sharing, building human and technical capabilities and cybersecurity industry development.

Space exploration
Both parties welcomed the enhancement of cooperation in all fields of space exploration, including human spaceflight, earth observation, commercial and regulatory development and responsible behaviour in outer space.

President Biden welcomed Saudi Arabia’s signing of the Artemis Accords.

Development of Tiran island
President Biden welcomed the arrangements by Saudi Arabia to remove the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) from the island, including the removal of US troops as part of the MFO mission, while preserving and continuing all existing commitments and procedures in the area.

This area of the Red Sea will now be developed for tourism and economic purposes. 

Expanding overflights
The Saudi General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA) announced its decision to open the kingdom’s airspace for all air carriers that meet the requirements of GACA.

The US welcomed this announcement, which will enhance global air connectivity and help cement the kingdom’s position as a global hub connecting Africa, Asia, and Europe. 

Vision 2030
The US welcomed Vision 2030 and Saudi efforts to increase women’s economic participation and promote interfaith dialogue.

Saudi Arabia welcomed greater US private sector investment in the kingdom, as well as increasing Saudi investments in the American private sector for the benefit of both countries.

The US side also welcomed Saudi’s bid to host World Expo in 2030 while Saudi welcomed the US serving as host for the World Cup in 2026. 

President Biden welcomed the leading role played by Saudi in strengthening relations with Iraq, and the agreements signed on the margins of the Jeddah Security and Development Summit to link the electricity networks of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries to the Iraqi grid.

Both sides affirmed their strong support for the UN-brokered truce in Yemen and stressed the importance of extending the truce and making progress to transform the truce into a lasting peace agreement.

They stressed their long-stated goal to end the war in Yemen, and called on the international community to take a unified position calling on the Houthis to return to peace talks.

Both parties also affirmed their support for Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council and stressed the need to remove all impediments to the flow of essential goods and delivery of aid inside Yemen. 

Israel-Palestinian issues
The two sides underscored their commitment to a two-state solution, wherein a sovereign and contiguous Palestinian state lives side-by-side in peace and security with Israel.

Both countries reiterated their commitment to preserving the unity, stability, and territorial integrity of Syria and expressed their support for the efforts of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to reach a political solution to the conflict. 

The US and Saudi affirmed their continued support for Lebanon’s sovereignty, security and stability, and their support for the Lebanese Armed Forces.

They also noted the importance of forming a Lebanese government and implementing comprehensive structural political and economic reforms to ensure that Lebanon overcomes its political and economic crisis.

Leaders of the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to providing critical assistance to the Ukrainian people, and to ensure the unhindered export of grain and wheat products to alleviate the global food crises, which threatens to acutely impact a number of Middle Eastern and African states.

The two parties underscored the importance of the dialogue between Sudanese parties and reviving the political process. 

Both sides affirmed their support for the Libyan people as they engage in the UN-brokered political process to prepare for presidential and parliamentary elections as soon as possible.

They expressed their full support for the Libyan ceasefire agreement concluded on October 23, 2020. 

Both countries stressed the need to support Afghanistan’s security and to address the threat posed by Afghanistan-based terrorists.

They expressed support for addressing the needs and promoting the rights of the Afghan people including the rights of women and girls to education and enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and, for women, the right to work.

The two sides underscored the importance of confronting terrorism and violent extremism.

They expressed their continued commitment to countering al-Qaeda and Isis, stemming the flow of foreign fighters, countering violent extremist propaganda, and cutting off terrorist financing streams.

They welcomed the next Global Coalition to Defeat Isis ministerial meeting to be held in Saudi Arabia in early 2023.

The Jeddah communiqué forms the basis of work going forward to consolidate and enhance the strategic partnership between the US and Saudi Arabia.

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