COVID or politics? Biden to avoid handshakes in Israel, Saudi Arabia

Katie R. Ochoa

TEL AVIV, July 13 (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden will search for to lessen direct get in touch with, this sort of as shaking arms, throughout his visits to Israel and Saudi Arabia this 7 days as element of improved COVID-19 precautions, White House officers explained on Wednesday.

The apparent shift in policy could permit Biden to stay clear of currently being photographed shaking palms afterwards this 7 days with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, recognized as MbS. browse a lot more

“We’re in a section of the pandemic now where we are seeking to lessen get hold of and to boost masking … to reduce distribute,” U.S. countrywide safety adviser Jake Sullivan informed reporters on Air Drive A person on a flight to Israel when questioned about experiences that Biden would not be shaking arms on the journey.

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“I can not communicate to … just about every second and each conversation and each and every motion. That is just kinda the common principle we’re making use of,” he added.

Biden, who named the Saudi authorities a “pariah” for its job in the 2018 murder of Washington Post journalist and political opponent Jamal Khashoggi, is reluctantly conference the crown prince, who U.S. intelligence feel was guiding the killing, for the duration of his halt this 7 days in Saudi Arabia. read through a lot more

“The White Home is desperately making an attempt to keep away from the image of Biden shaking hands with the Crown Prince, primarily immediately after the Washington Article editorial condemning assembly with MbS. COVID is a straightforward justification but it won’t improve the truth of the meeting,” said Bruce Riedel, a foreign plan fellow at the Brookings Establishment.

Biden departed for Israel late on Tuesday just after expending aspect of the late afternoon and early night shaking numerous palms on the White Residence South Garden throughout a congressional picnic.

Biden fist-bumped the Israeli delegation on arrival, but afterwards talked carefully with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid as the two leaders stood shoulder to shoulder, with arms powering each individual other’s back.

The U.S. president shook arms with previous Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, now the opposition leader, and Defence Minister Benny Gantz.

The White Dwelling on Tuesday urged Us residents above age 50 to get vaccination boosters towards COVID-19 as the quickly-spreading Omicron BA.5 subvariant normally takes keep throughout the United States.

Biden will take part in a bilateral assembly with the Saudi king and crown prince on Friday, but Biden in latest months has sought to emphasize the conference with a broader established of Gulf leaders.

White Home spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre mentioned no information conference was scheduled throughout Biden’s Saudi Arabia vacation.

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Reporting by Steve Holland in Tel Aviv, Jarrett Renshaw in Saudi Arabia and Jeff Mason in Washington Modifying by William Maclean and Howard Goller

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