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JEDDAH: US President Joe Biden on Saturday invited his Emirati counterpart, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, to visit the United States, a friendly gesture after months of strained ties over the Ukraine war and other issues.

“We both understand that the challenges we face today only make it a heck of a lot more important that we spend more time together. And I want to formally invite you to the States,” Biden said after the two men met on the sidelines of a gathering of Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia.

Biden specified he was inviting Sheikh Mohamed to the White House – “the Oval” – and said he wanted the visit to happen “before this year is out”.

US ‘will not walk away’ from Middle East: Biden to Arab leaders

Sheikh Mohamed, the UAE’s de facto ruler for years, took office in May following the death of his half-brother, the long-ailing Sheikh Khalifa.

The wealthy Gulf state hosts US troops and has been a strategic partner to Washington for decades, but its economic and political ties with Russia are growing.

Yousef al-Otaiba, the Emirati ambassador to the US, admitted in March that relations with Washington were going through a “stress test”.

He was speaking days after the UAE abstained in a UN Security Council vote on a resolution demanding a Russian withdrawal from Ukraine.

Biden fist bumps Saudi crown prince on trip that seeks to reset ties

Sheikh Mohamed’s political adviser, Anwar Gargash, told journalists Friday that US-Emirati ties were “in a good place” but that there were issues “we need to resolve”.

After meeting with Saudi leaders Friday, Biden is trying to use Saturday’s summit as an opportunity to outline his vision for Washington’s role in the region.

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