President Biden, wanting to rebuild ties with Saudi Arabia, plans on visiting Riyadh later this month, three administration officials told The Washington Post on Thursday.
Biden is expected to add Saudi Arabia to a travel itinerary that already includes stops in Israel, Germany, and Spain. His visit also will likely include a meeting with the country's crown prince and de facto leader, Mohammed bin Salman.
U.S. intelligence has concluded that bin Salman ordered the 2018 killing of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. During a 2019 Democratic presidential debate, Biden said he would make Saudi Arabia a "pariah," adding that there is "very little social redeeming value in the present government in Saudi Arabia."
Saudi Arabia is an oil-rich country, and this turnaround is part of efforts by Biden to lower soaring gas prices in the United States, officials told the Post. They also shared that members of the administration were divided on whether the visit should include a forum with bin Salman. "A meeting with bin Salman was eventually seen as a necessary act of realpolitik to lower energy prices and inflation, despite a campaign promise to further isolate Riyadh," the Post's Tyler Pager and John Hudson write. "Whether this move will substantially lower the price of oil is far from clear."