Saudi state television Al-Ekhbariya showed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's de facto leader, greeting US President Joe Biden with a fist bump and escorting him into Jeddah's Al-Salam palace.
Joe Biden (left) fist bumping Mohammed bin Salman (right) [ROYAL COURT OF SAUDI ARABIA / HANDOUT/Anadolu Agency/Getty]
US President Joe Biden landed on Friday in Saudi Arabia, sealing a retreat from his campaign pledge to turn the kingdom into a "pariah" over its human rights record.
Saudi state media showed images of Air Force One at the airport in the coastal city of Jeddah after a flight from Israel, making Biden the first US leader to fly directly from Israel to an Arab nation that does not recognise it.
Biden, wearing sunglasses, emerged from Air Force One to walk down a purple carpet and be greeted by Mecca province governor Prince Khaled al-Faisal and Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Washington.
Later, state television Al-Ekhbariya showed Prince Mohammed, the kingdom's de facto leader, greeting Biden with a fist bump and escorting him into Jeddah's Al-Salam palace.
Biden met Saudi King Salman, 86, then he and Prince Mohammed sat across from one another at a large conference table for a "working session", flanked by top officials.
Saudi Arabia announced late on Thursday that it was lifting restrictions on "all carriers", allowing Biden to take his flight and paving the way for Israeli planes to use its airspace.
It comes amid speculation Riyadh, like other Arab states such as the UAE and Bahrain, could make the highly contentious decision to normalise ties with Israel.
Earlier on Friday, Biden met his Palestinian Authority counterpart Mahmoud Abbas in the occupied West Bank.
The US leader said that Palestinians need to see a path towards statehood, even if hopes for a peace process with Israel remain bleak.
Biden announced an additional $200 million for the UN agency serving Palestinian refugees, which saw funding cut by the previous US president Donald Trump.
The Bethlehem stop on Biden's Middle East tour followed meetings with Israeli officials and ahead of his visit to Saudi Arabia.