U.S. President Joe Biden will visit Saudi Arabia this month, a report on Thursday, a complete reversal for a leader who once called for the state to be made a pariah.
The report comes hours after Saudi Arabia agreed to increase oil production and extend a ceasefire in war-torn Yemen, addressing two of Biden’s priorities.
The New York Times and CNN, citing unnamed sources, both said that Biden would go ahead with the long-rumored Saudi stop on the upcoming tour.
White House Press Secretary Karin Jean-Pierre said he had no plans to travel, but added: “The president will look for opportunities to engage with leaders in the Middle East.”
Biden plans to attend the NATO summit in Spain this month and the Group of Seven summit in Germany. He is also expected to visit Israel.
In his bid for the presidency, Biden called on Saudi leaders to be regarded as “the pariahs” after the former conservative state’s excellent relations with its predecessor, Donald Trump.
After tempting US-based dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Trump essentially saved Saudi Arabia from the consequences, where he was strangled to death.
Trump’s son-in-law and ally, Jared Kushner, is said to have formed a close bond with Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in a WhatsApp chat with him.
Biden released an intelligence report shortly after taking office, claiming that the Crown Prince had authorized the assassination of Khashoggi and that the administration had imposed visa restrictions on dozens of Saudis for allegedly threatening dissidents.
Biden also withdrew support from Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen amid a revolt over civilian casualties.
On Thursday, Biden welcomed a fragile two-month ceasefire between Yemen’s Saudi-backed government and Iran-linked Houthi rebels, with U.S. officials saying Riyadh was a supporter of diplomacy.
Leading oil producers, led by Saudi Arabia, also agreed on Thursday to increase expected output, a relief for Biden, whose turnout fell slightly due to skyrocketing gas prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)