No handshake for MBS: Biden bumps fists with Saudi Crown Prince
Biden sticks to his words and fist bumps Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman instead of shaking hands with him.
Reports have proven to be true, as US President Joe Biden bumped fists on Friday with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman upon landing in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on the second leg of his visit to West Asia.
The manner of greeting and body language often indicates how statesmen feel about one another, but the Biden team said close contact will be restricted for the US president due to the possibility of contracting coronavirus.
بالصور 📷🇸🇦🇺🇸 | "واس": العاهل السعودي #الملك_سلمان يلتقي الرئيس الأمريكي #جوزيف_بايدن بـ #قصر_السلام في #جدة— الخليج أونلاين (@AlkhaleejOnline) July 15, 2022
| #الخليج_أونلاين #قمة_جدة #أمريكا #القمة_السعودية_الأمريكية #بايدن pic.twitter.com/YMdFq9cDOi
Reports on Thursday said that Biden was set to avoid shaking hands during his West Asia tour, White House officials said, noting that the decision taken by the US leader to limit handshakes was over medical advice he received from his doctor amid a rise in Covid-19 cases.
"We're in a phase of the pandemic right now where we're looking to increase masking, reduce contact to minimize spread. That's the approach we're taking," National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters aboard Air Force One on Wednesday. However, he did note that each individual interaction Biden has could go differently.
After offering remarks on the tarmac and bumping fists with Israeli occupation Prime Minister Yair Lapid, Biden was seen shaking hands with former Israeli Prime Ministers Naftali Bennett and Benjamin Netanyahu.
Biden's visit has seen him meeting with Israeli officials, and he is scheduled to meet with Saudi and Emirati officials. The most pressing issue for Biden is energy security, specifically persuading US partners like Saudi Arabia and the UAE to increase oil production and output.
Biden's PR team must have spent some time brainstorming the act, as they know that the most damaging that could come out of the visit would be that of Biden putting his hand in MBS', especially after the US intelligence community found him to be the one who pulled the strings that murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre faced some trouble trying to swat off questions from the press about why Biden, otherwise a handshake-happy President, would keep his hand adhered to his side during his West Asia swing.
"We always, on these trips, take precautions," she said despite Biden warmingly shaking hands with world leaders at the NATO summit in Madrid, Spain.
Biden arrived at Al-Lydd's Ben Gurion Airport on Wednesday, where he was received by high-ranking Israeli officials on his first official visit to occupied Palestine as President before holding talks with Israeli occupation Prime Minister Yair Lapid and other senior officials.
His visit to Saudi Arabia will see the US leader try and mend ties with Saudi Arabia to persuade Riyadh and other Gulf allies to pump out more oil in the markets as the Biden administration faces mounting criticism over the soaring oil prices.
Many are saying that the statements coming from the United States are just paving the way for Biden to avoid taking a photo shaking hands with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman upon landing in Saudi Arabia in a bid to try and salvage whatever is left of his narrative of making the Kingdom "the pariah that they are."