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Sunday, February 18, 2024

Biden planning July trip to Saudi Arabia and Israel

US President Joe Biden will travel to Saudi Arabia and Israel next month and the White House is planning to announce the trip this week, a source familiar with the planning said on Sunday.

Biden is expected to visit Israel and the Palestinian Authority on July 14 and 15 before traveling on to Saudi Arabia. The White House has not confirmed those dates, and the Israeli officials all warned that the timing had shifted several times and could change again.

Biden promised on the campaign trail to make Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman a “pariah” over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. But the surge in global oil prices has led him to court the kingdom in hopes it will increase production.

Read more: White House defends Biden’s plans for Saudi meeting

When news of a potential trip to Saudi Arabia emerged, Biden said any visit would come in the context of trying to bring “more stability and peace to the Middle East.”

The tentative agenda for the visit to Saudi Arabia includes a summit with the leaders of Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Iraq, Oman, Qatar, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, as Axios previously reported.

Biden is expected to meet officials including Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and President Isaac Herzog.

He is also expected to visit Bethlehem and meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Biden is planning to travel to Saudi Arabia on July 15, according to Israeli officials.

A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council confirmed Biden is planning a trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia in July.

Read more: Soaring inflation forces Biden to consider removing tariffs on Chinese products

“The trip comes in the context of a significant agenda with Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the other countries of the Middle East. That agenda is focused on delivering results for the American people as well as ending wars and leading through diplomacy to bring stability to the Middle East region,” the spokesperson said.

The Saudi embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The White House has said Biden feels that the crown prince is a “pariah” for his role in the killing of a political opponent, Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in Turkey in 2018.

Read more: This is why Biden is visiting Saudi Arabia

Khashoggi’s murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul tainted the crown prince’s image as a reformist. The Saudi government has denied any involvement by him.
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.


Reuters with additional input by GVS