Biden to visit Saudi Arabia, meet crown prince

Washington D.C./Riyadh, Jun 14 (EFE).- United States president Joe Biden is expected to travel to Saudi Arabia in July and meet with the country’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi authorities and White House officials confirmed on Tuesday.

The visit will be a part of a Middle East trip that includes stops in Israel and the West Bank from July 13-16, the White House said in a statement.

The US government has not officially confirmed the meeting between Biden and the Saudi de-facto ruler but several local media said it would take place.

A summit is also set to take place, in which Saudi king Salman bin Abdulaziz, Jordan’s king Abdullah II, Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Iraq’s president Barham Saleh will participate, according to the Saudi royal palace.

The meeting between Biden and bin Salman will mark a change in the policy of the US president’s administration since Biden took power in January 2021.

Biden had vowed to make Saudi Arabia a pariah over the killing of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

“While in Saudi Arabia, the President will discuss a range of bilateral, regional, and global issues,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

Jean-Pierre did not mention the surging oil prices, although many see the trip as an attempt by the Biden administration to cooperate with Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer, as sanctions against Russia affect the global market.

Washington-Riyadh ties deteriorated in 2018 after Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Khashoggi, who had been a US-based columnist for the Washington Post, entered the consulate on October 2, 2018, to issue documentation to marry his girlfriend, Hatice Cengiz, but never left the building. His body has never been retrieved.

Riyadh has said Khashoggi was killed in a “rogue operation” and sentenced five people to death, without offering details of the trial.

US intelligence claimed that bin Salman ordered Khashoggi’s assassination, but the crown prince has always denied his involvement.EFE


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