Joe Biden follows a well-trodden path in visit to Saudi Arabia

Many US presidents have travelled to the kingdom in past decades, displaying close ties between Washington and Riyadh

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Joe Biden's first visit to Saudi Arabia as US president on Friday continues a long history of close ties between Washington and Riyadh that goes back to a meeting between Franklin D Roosevelt and King Abdulaziz, who met aboard the USS Quincy in the Suez Canal in 1945.

Since the end of the Second World War, Saudi Arabia and the US have established a strategic partnership in areas such as energy and regional security, with many presidents visiting the kingdom over the years.

Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met Mr Biden after his arrival, with further talks including other regional leaders to take place on Saturday.

Mr Biden's flight to Jeddah was historic for being the first from Israel to Saudi Arabia and followed a decision by the kingdom on Thursday to “open Saudi airspace to all civilian carriers without discrimination, a decision that includes flights to and from Israel”.

Mr Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, made the journey in reverse — from Saudi Arabia to Israel — during his visit to the region in 2017.

The first state visit by a Saudi monarch to Washington was made by King Saud in 1957 and concluded with Washington offering to support and strengthen the kingdom's armed forces.

But it was Richard Nixon's visit to the kingdom to meet King Faisal in 1974 that highlighted the significance of the relationship and set the tone for the years to come.

Other US presidents to visit the kingdom since then include George HW Bush, who met King Fahd in November 1990 during the First Gulf War, while his successor, Bill Clinton, met the Saudi monarch during a regional tour four years later.

Bush's son, George W Bush, met King Fahd's successor, King Abdullah, in the final year of his second presidential term in 2008.

And Barack Obama travelled to the kingdom in 2015, the year King Salman ascended to the throne, during the penultimate year of his second term.

Updated: July 15, 2022, 7:37 PM
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