As we approach the Holy Month of Ramadan this weekend, we welcome the proactive diplomacy underway with our friends and partners across the Middle East region. These efforts are central to President Biden’s agenda of forging a more secure and integrated Middle East region through a combination of deterrence against adversaries and diplomacy wherever possible to reduce tensions and de-escalate ongoing conflicts.
This approach was manifest this week.
On Monday, Secretary of State Blinken attended a historic meeting in Israel together with the Foreign Ministers of Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Morocco, and UAE. This group of countries agreed to form permanent working groups with an aim to improve security and livelihoods across the region. We now aim to further expand this circle of like-minded states. Today’s conclusion of a Free Trade Agreement between the UAE and Israel exemplifies the new opportunities that are emerging in the region and upon which our administration is working to facilitate and strengthen.
Secretary Blinken also visited Ramallah, where he reaffirmed President Biden’s commitment to doing all that we can to ensure Israelis and Palestinians share equal measures of freedom, dignity, security and prosperity. Later in the week, King Abdullah II hosted the first-ever visit by an Israeli head of state, President Isaac Herzog, to Jordan. We are grateful for the visionary role of these leaders and for the important role that King Abdullah II plays as custodian over the Holy Sites in Jerusalem, particularly over the upcoming Holy Days.
We also stand by our friends who face threats from terrorists, as seen over the past week in Israel. President Biden spoke with Prime Minister Bennett on Wednesday and offered all appropriate assistance in the wake of these barbarous attacks against innocent civilian. Our entire administration stand behind our Israeli allies as they work to confront threats to their citizens.
Ending the war in Yemen has been a consistent focus of our administration over the past year. Today, after months of relentless UN-led diplomacy backed by the United States and our partners, the UN’s Special Envoy to Yemen announced a 60-day truce under which military operations will cease and restrictions on the flow of goods and people into and out of Yemen will ease. President Biden welcomed this initiative and commended the leadership of Saudi Arabia and Oman in helping to finalize it. We are hopeful that this initiative will establish a new foundation for political talks and a lasting settlement to end the suffering of the Yemeni people once and for all.
Even as we work to end the war in Yemen, there can be no doubt about President Biden’s commitment to supporting the defense of our partners, including the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Earlier this week, the Treasury Department announced significant new sanction designations against Iran’s missile procurement network pursuant to Executive Order 13382, which targets weapons of mass destruction proliferators and their supporters. We will continue to use all appropriate authorities to hold Iran and its proxy groups accountable for threats against our friends and partners.
As this past week has shown, diplomacy is forging opportunities to secure a more peaceful and prosperous region even as we work to deter and counter threats against our partners and interests. The United Stands will stand with its friends – and we are hopeful that this upcoming Holy Month of Ramadan will bring comfort and peace to peoples across the Middle East region.