Saudi Arabia to open airspace to all carriers as Biden prepares to visit

Jerusalem, Jul 15 (EFE).- Saudi Arabia will open its airspace to all carriers, which would include overflights to and from Israel, ahead of a visit of United States President Joe Biden to the country Friday.

In a statement, the Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) said that it was keen to fulfill its 1944 Chicago Convention obligations that stipulate non-discrimination between civil aircrafts.

GACA “announces the decision to open the Kingdom’s airspace for all air carriers that meet the requirements of the Authority for overflying,” it said.

The move will “complement the efforts aimed at consolidating the Kingdom’s position as a global hub connecting three continents and to enhance international air connectivity,” GACA added.

The announcement comes amid the Middle East tour of Biden, who has been mediating a rapprochement between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which do not have diplomatic relations.

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan hailed the kingdom’s decision as “historic.”

He claimed that Saudi Arabia’s announcement was the “result of the President’s persistent and principled diplomacy with Saudi Arabia over many months” and will culminate Friday with Biden’s visit to the kingdom, where he has meetings planned that will include Saudi crown prince and de facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman.

US intelligence has said bin Salman approved the operation that resulted in the 2018 killing of journalist and Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where he had gone to get paperwork for his upcoming marriage.

During campaigning for the 2020 presidential election, Biden promised to make the Saudis “pay the price, and make them in fact the pariah that they are.”

But Sullivan said that Friday’s decision “paves the way for a more integrated, stable, and secure Middle East region, which is vital for the security and prosperity of the United States and the American people, and for the security and prosperity of Israel.”

In a press conference on Thursday, Biden had said that he was “optimistic” about the possibility of an agreement on flights between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

After the Abraham Accords, which allowed Israel to normalize its relations with some neighbors in the region, Saudi Arabia has already allowed Israeli airlines to pass through its airspace to the United Arab Emirates. EFE


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