US President Joe Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (Photo credit: AFP)
The White House has finally issued official confirmation of Joe Biden’s upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia, which is set to take place during a trip to West Asia between 13 and 16 July.
The kingdom’s Royal Court also confirmed the visit, saying the US president will meet with King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
During this trip, Biden will also visit Israel and the occupied West Bank.
The announcement by the White House comes after the Saudi kingdom nudged OPEC+ to increase oil production by 648,000 barrels per day in July and August, and after the extension of a UN-mediated truce for its seven years of war in Yemen.
On 13 June, Biden himself confirmed the trip while speaking with reporters. However, he claimed his visit was not to discuss the kingdom’s oil production levels, but would instead focus on “Israel’s national security.”
Video: Biden reveals upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia is not about oil, but rather concerns Israel's "national security." pic.twitter.com/mll2hx69xM
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Last week, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre claimed that Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia will “serve US national interests.”
In the lead up to the 2020 presidential election, Biden promised to make the kingdom a “pariah” and to have MbS “pay the price” for the brutal murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
A US intelligence report released by the Biden White House in February 2021 concluded that MbS “approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey, to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.”
However, amid a worsening energy crisis battering the west, the US president has been forced to do an about-face on his earlier remarks in an effort to drive down fuel prices.
Since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Biden and other western leaders have tried and failed to get their Gulf allies to break with their OPEC+ commitments and increase oil production.
The leaders of Saudi Arabia and the UAE in particular snubbed calls by the US president, instead choosing to strengthen ties with Moscow.