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International relations

Biden to embark on realpolitik Middle East tour: 5 things to watch

Will Israel-Saudi rapprochement compensate for meeting with crown prince?

The Middle East that U.S. President Joe Biden visits this week is a drastically different region from where former President Donald Trump visited in 2017. (Source photos Reuters)  

CAIRO/TEL AVIV -- U.S. President Joe Biden begins a four-day tour of the Middle East on Wednesday with stops in Israel, the West Bank and Saudi Arabia. The president's visit to Saudi Arabia, a country he pledged to isolate while on the campaign trail over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, shows the realpolitik nature of the trip. Biden needs the kingdom to pump more oil and possibly tame gas prices as American drivers increasingly feel the squeeze ahead of midterm elections.

But the White House sees this trip as more than a desperate plea to the oil-rich nation. The fact that the American leader is flying directly from Tel Aviv, Israel, to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia -- two regional heavyweights that have long been arch enemies -- symbolizes the region's dynamic shifts.

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