Report: Biden to visit former ‘pariah’ Saudi Arabia

i24NEWS - AFP/Reuters

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US President Joe Biden (R) with King Salman bin Abdel-Aziz at the Prince Sultan palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on October 27, 2011.
AP Photo/Hassan AmmarUS President Joe Biden (R) with King Salman bin Abdel-Aziz at the Prince Sultan palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on October 27, 2011.

Biden 'will look for opportunities to engage with leaders from the Middle East region'

US President Joe Biden will visit Saudi Arabia this month, reports said Thursday, a stark reversal for a leader who once called for the kingdom to be made a pariah.

The reported decision came hours after Saudi Arabia addressed two of Biden's priorities by agreeing to a production hike in oil and helping extend a truce in war-battered Yemen.

Washington took the rare step of recognizing the role played by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in extending the ceasefire in Yemen’s war. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that bin Salman and Saudi King Salman deserved credit for their roles in the truce extension.

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Anonymous sources quoted by The New York Times, The Washington Post, and CNN said that Biden would go ahead with the long-rumored Saudi stop on an upcoming trip to Europe and Israel in late June.

CNN said that Biden would meet the kingdom’s de facto ruler, bin Salman, who was accused by US intelligence of ordering the 2018 murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Jean-Pierre said she had no travel to announce, adding only: "The president will look for opportunities to engage with leaders from the Middle East region."

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The visit would be aimed at bolstering relations with Saudi Arabia at a time when Biden is trying to find ways to lower gasoline prices in the United States.

Biden would participate in a Riyadh summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council – a regional union whose members are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates – sources said.

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