Biden lands in Israel for Middle East visit

STORY: Biden will spend two days in Jerusalem for talks with Israeli leaders before meeting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday (July 15) in the occupied West Bank.

Afterward, he will take a direct flight from Israel to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia - a first for an American president - for talks with Saudi officials and to attend a summit of Gulf allies.

U.S. officials say the trip - Biden's first to the Middle East as president - could produce more steps toward normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, historic foes but also two of America's strongest allies in the turbulent region.

Biden's trip aims to promote regional stability, deepen Israel's integration in the region and counter Iranian influence and aggression by Russia and China.

There will be no attempt to restart the long-stalled peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. However, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Biden would restate his commitment to the so-called two state solution, with a future Palestinian state existing alongside Israel.