Biden broaches Iran, Saudi ties in Israel visit

Jerusalem, Jul 14 (EFE).- United States president Joe Biden and Israeli caretaker prime minister Yair Lapid on Thursday discussed Iran’s nuclear program, as well as Israel’s ties with Saudi Arabia.

During their bilateral meeting in Jerusalem, both leaders signed a joint declaration stressing the “unbreakable bonds” between Israel and the United States.

The declaration also includes a pledge to never allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon and “to work together with other partners to confront Iran’s aggression and destabilizing activities,” according to a statement from the White House.

At a press conference, Lapid said that he and Biden had addressed the “Iranian threat.”

“There will be no nuclear Iran. This is not only a threat to Israel but to the world. And we discussed some other issues we’re going to keep to ourselves,” Lapid said, giving no further details.

Iran’s nuclear program is one of the main topics on the agenda for Biden’s visit to Israel, which strongly opposes a US return to the 2015 nuclear deal that former president Donald Trump pulled out from in 2018.

Last year the Biden administration opened indirect negotiations with Tehran to revive the pact, but talks have been on hold since March.

Biden on Thursday said the US would not wait “forever” for Iran to return to the deal.

Lapid added that they also spoke about Biden’s upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia, which he called “extremely important to Israel.”

Israel and Saudi Arabia do not have diplomatic relations but the Biden administration has been acting as a mediator to promote a rapprochement between the two nations, which have been cooperating behind the scenes for years against their common foe, Iran.

Lapid stressed that Israel is seeking to establish “a more moderate coalition here in the Middle East.”

Biden, meanwhile, reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to Israel’s security.

“The vast majority of the American public, not just my administration, is completely devoted to your security,” the US president said.

Following their meeting, Biden and Lapid joined Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and UAE president Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan for an online summit at which all four countries agreed to strengthen cooperation in fields including climate, energy and food security.

Biden’s trip aims to deepen Israel’s integration in the Middle East, seizing on the momentum generated by the Abraham Accords, which allowed Israel to normalize relations with the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco, according to the White House.

Biden is set to head to the occupied West Bank later to meet with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas before traveling to Saudi Arabia.EFE


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