The White House announced that President Joe Biden would be visiting Saudi Arabia next month in a foreign policy trade-off, hitting the brakes on his campaign pledge to make them “a pariah”. The trip has been speculated to be a move to seek aid for the record-high gas prices.
Joe Biden will travel to the Middle East next month, where he’ll stop at Israel and visit with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The US president is also expected to join a major gathering of regional leaders in Saudi Arabia.
“The President looks forward to outlining his affirmative vision for US engagement in the region over the coming months and years,” said Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. “The President appreciates King Salman’s leadership and his invitation. He looks forward to this important visit to Saudi Arabia, which has been a strategic partner of the United States for nearly eight decades.”
The trip had been planned for months with US officials consulting their Saudi and Israeli counterparts. Initially, the President was set to visit this month but due to G7 and NATO summits in Europe, the schedule had to be pushed further. Additionally, with speculations of a trip going around for months, the White House had to deny any plans.
“We’re now in a place where we feel this has come together in a very constructive way for everyone involved, and the President’s looking forward to it,” said a senior administration official.
While in the Middle East, Biden will not only meet athletes in an international Jewish sporting event, he will also view the US-provided systems. The President will also attempt to reignite peace talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
The President is also set to meet Mohammed bin Salman, but it remains unclear if they will have a one-on-one meeting.
The decision to go ahead with Biden’s visit has drawn criticism from some quarters, who feel that he is going back on his pledge after Jamal Khashoggi’s death in 2018.
Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiance, was outraged by the decision and accused Biden of losing his moral compass, saying:
“President Biden’s decision to meet MBS is horribly upsetting to me and supporters of freedom and justice everywhere.”