President Biden faced criticism for not having called the Israeli prime minister in his first month calls to world leaders.
US President Joe Biden plans a call soon with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the White House announced on Tuesday, as critics have accused Biden of snubbing the leader of a top US ally in the Middle East.
“His first call with a leader in the region, will be with Prime Minister Netanyahu,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters, adding that she did not have an exact day for the call but “it will be soon”.
Some critics have accused Biden of snubbing Netanyahu for having not yet spoken to him nearly a month after taking office.
Former President Donald Trump was a close ally of Netanyahu and moved US relations to a strong pro-Israel position with little to no contact with the Palestinians.
“Israel is of course an ally,” Psaki said. “Israel is a country where we have an important strategic security relationship, and our team is fully engaged, not at the head of state level quite yet but very soon.”
Psaki also said Biden is planning to recalibrate US relations with Saudi Arabia and will communicate through Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz rather than Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Tuesday.
Her comments on Saudi Arabia represented an abrupt change in policy from Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, whose son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner was close to the Saudi crown prince.
“We’ve made clear from the beginning that we are going to recalibrate our relationship with Saudi Arabia,” Psaki said.
As for questions about whether Biden would speak to the crown prince, Psaki said Biden is returning to “counterpart to counterpart” engagement.
“The president’s counterpart is King Salman and I expect at an appropriate time he will have a conversation with him. I don’t have a prediction on the timeline on that,” she said.
Psaki said Saudi Arabia has critical self-defence needs and the United States will work with the Saudis on this “even as we make clear areas where we have disagreements and where we have concerns. And that certainly is a shift from the prior administration.”