WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden will make history next month with a direct flight between Israel and Saudi Arabia where he will meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, abandoning efforts to ostracise the oil kingdom’s de facto leader over the murder of a dissident.
The White House ended weeks of speculation Tuesday, announcing that Biden will travel to Israel, the Palestinian West Bank and Saudi Arabia from July 13-16.
This will be Biden’s first trip to the Middle East as president and in addition to meetings with individual leaders in all three places, he will attend a regional Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Saudi Arabia.
There is widespread expectation that Biden hopes to secure a boost in Saudi oil production, in an attempt to tame spiralling fuel costs and inflation at home ahead of midterm congressional elections in which his Democratic party risks a drubbing.
Whatever the outcome, his meeting with the crown prince, often referred to as MBS, will mark a controversial policy shift.