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President Biden on Friday said he has “no direct plans at the moment” to travel to Saudi Arabia, despite reports that he was expected to visit Riyadh later this month in an effort to repair relations and add more oil to the global markets.
“I have no direct plans at the moment,” Biden said Friday, during remarks on the May jobs report. “But let me tell you that I have been engaged in trying to work with how we can bring more stability and peace in the Middle East.”
The president said that there is “a possibility that I would be going to meet with both the Israelis and the Arabs, some Arab countries at the time, including, I expect would be Saudi Arabia to be included in that if I do go.”
“But I have no direct plans at the moment,” Biden said.
The Washington Post and The New York Times this week reported that Biden would travel to Saudi Arabia later this month — even amid his repeated promises to hold the country accountable for human rights violations.
Reports suggested Biden would meet with Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman.
Biden previously promised to make the kingdom a global “pariah” due to its mistreatment of human beings, violations of international law, and open hostility to the U.S. — including the killing of a Washington Post journalist.
“We were going to in fact make [Saudi Arabia] pay the price, and make them, in fact, the pariah that they are,” Biden said in a 2019 presidential primary debate.
Former President Trump visited Saudi Arabia during his first foreign trip as president and didn’t sour to the Arab nation after the killing of Saudi Arabia native and U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Saudi Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman, (MBS), in Moscow’s Kremlin, Russia. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, Pool, File)
Khashoggi, a contributor for the Washington Post, was killed in 2018 by Saudi security officials, though the suspected ties to Mohammed bin Salman, also referred to as MbS, did not affect President Trump’s relationship with the crown prince
Democrats took Trump to task for not taking the killing more seriously.
Biden intended to overhaul Saudi Arabian diplomacy over the incident, which was supposed to include sidestepping Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
“We’ve made clear from the beginning that we are going to recalibrate our relationship with Saudi Arabia,” former White House press secretary Psaki said at the beginning of Biden’s term.
Salman is set to be the successor to his 85-year-old father King Salman.
“The President’s counterpart is King Salman, and I expect that, in appropriate time, he would have a conversation with him,” Psaki told reporters at the time.