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Biden on first trip to the Middle East, aiming to bring Israel and Saudi Arabia closer

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Biden defends Iran deal against Israel news scrutiny, officials tout ‘important strategic ties’

U.S. President Joe Biden is on his first trip to the Middle East as Commander-in-Chief. He landed in Tel Aviv on Wednesday and was greeted by several dignitaries including the Israeli President and Prime Minister. Biden pledged in remarks at an arrival ceremony to deepen Israel’s relationship with America and with other countries in the region.

“We’ll continue to advance Israel’s integration into the region, expand emerging forums and engagement,” Biden said. “Greater peace, greater stability, greater connection. It’s critical. It’s critical, if I might add, for all the people of the region.”

After arriving, Biden received briefing on the Iron Dome defense system and the next-generation, laser-enabled Iron Beam system. The United States has provided much support and funding for the project.

Another leg on his tour is a stop in Saudi Arabia. Leaving a host of domestic issues like 40-year-high inflation, sky-high gas prices, a recent rash of violence in big cities across the nation and the ongoing debate over abortion—President Biden is defending his decision to travel to Saudi Arabia saying human rights would be on his agenda as he gave a preview of a trip on which he aims to reset ties with the crown prince, who he previously denounced as a pariah.

Biden will hold bilateral talks with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and his leadership team, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on his visit to the Middle East this week.

The Crown Prince Mohammed, Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, was believed to be behind the 2018 murder of Washington Post journalist and political opponent Jamal Khashoggi, according to the U.S. intelligence community.

Biden needs oil-rich Saudi Arabia’s help at a time of high gasoline prices and as he encourages efforts to end the war in Yemen after the Saudis recently extended a ceasefire there. The United States also wants to curb Iran’s influence in the Middle East and China’s global sway.

Veronica Dudo is the U.S. Correspondent for Ticker News covering America’s biggest headlines. As an Emmy® Award nominated global journalist, Veronica has traveled across the country and around the world reporting on historical events that connect all citizens. Lauded as an award-winning international journalist, Veronica has executed stellar news coverage for NBC News, CBS News, The Hill, ME-TV Network and AOL. Her stories have highlighted a plethora of topics ranging from breaking news and politics to economic affairs across the USA, European Union, and Asia; cultural affairs; globalization; governance; education; and sustainability.

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World

Balloon diplomacy blows China off course

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China claims an “airship” that is flying over the United States is for civilian meteorological and other scientific purposes and voiced regret that it strayed into U.S. airspace.

U.S. officials said on Thursday that a Chinese spy balloon has been flying over the United States for a couple of days, in what would be a brazen act just days ahead of a planned trip to Beijing by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

In a statement late on Friday, China’s foreign ministry also said that it would continue to maintain communications with the United States to properly handle the unexpected situation.

“The airship is from China and is civilian in nature, used for meteorological and other scientific research. Due to the influence of westerly winds and its limited control capability, the airship deviated from its intended course,” it said.

“China regrets that the airship strayed into the United States by mistake due to force majeure. China will continue to maintain communication with the U.S. side to properly handle this accident,” it said.

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U.S. announces longer-range rocket for Ukraine

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A new rocket that would double Ukraine’s strike range in its war with Russia was included in a $2.175 billion U.S. military aid package.

The new weapon, the Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB), will allow Ukraine’s military to hit targets at twice the distance reachable by the rockets it now fires from the U.S.-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).

The 151 km (94 mile) GLSDB will put all of Russia’s supply lines in eastern Ukraine within reach, as well as part of Russian-occupied Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014.

“As part of the USAI package, we will be providing Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb to Ukraine,” Brigadier General Patrick Ryder told a news briefing at the Pentagon. USAI stands for Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI).

Friday’s aid pledge opens the door to many more deliveries of the Ground Launched Small Diameter Bombs (GLSDB).

When the new rockets arrive, it will mark the first time Ukraine has seen its rocket range grow exponentially since U.S. furnished HIMARS in late-June 2022.

HIMARS have a 77 km (48 mile) range and were instrumental in Ukraine’s counter offensive against Russian forces, which invaded on Feb. 24, 2022.

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Fame

Fans struggle to buy Beyonce concert tickets

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If you’re struggling to get Beyonce tickets, you’re not alone

 
O2 customers in the U.K. were reporting problems with the company’s app and website.

For those who were able to get through, they paid anywhere from £56-199.

For those who are super keen, there are V.I.P. packages with front row seats. But that’ll set you back £475.

Some fans took to social media to vent their frustrations over the ticketing fiasco.

It’s Queen B’s first solo tour in seven years, and will take her across Europe and North America.

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