The White House announces that Biden will visit Saudi Arabia and expects to meet the Crown Prince

After weeks of speculation, the agenda for President Biden’s visit to the Middle East has been set in mid-July, and it includes a visit to Saudi Arabia during which he is expected to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a senior administration official told reporters.

why does it matter: Biden vowed during his election campaign to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” over the kingdom’s human rights record and the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. US intelligence concluded that Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing – a claim Saudi officials reject.

  • The Saudi Royal Court issued a statement of its own, confirming that Biden will meet the Crown Prince and his father, King Salman, on July 15, “to discuss areas of bilateral cooperation as well as joint efforts to confront regional and global challenges.”

Between the lines: Speculation of the will – he won’t – about a possible meeting with the crown prince has highlighted the tension for Biden between realpolitik at a time of tensions with Iran, sky-high oil prices, and his desire to put human rights first. of US foreign policy.

  • The US official only initially said that Biden would meet “with our Saudi hosts,” including King Salman, before acknowledging that “we can expect him to see the crown prince.”
  • The official defended the importance of the long-standing relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia, particularly at a time when the United States was pressing the Saudis to help bring down oil prices.
  • The official said the administration sought a “recalibration of relations” but “not a rupture” because engagement is necessary in order to protect “the important intertwined interests with Saudi Arabia.” Thus, the official claimed the visit was a “smart thing to do at the right time.”

details: Biden’s visit to the Middle East will take place from July 13-16, including stops in Israel, the occupied West Bank and Saudi Arabia. Israeli officials say it is expected to land in Israel on the evening of July 13, local time.

While you are in Israel, Biden will visit a military base and discuss emerging technologies such as laser-powered missile defense.

  • The US official said he will also hold a virtual summit with the leaders of India, Israel, the United States and the United Arab Emirates.
  • Israeli President Yitzhak Herzog is expected to host Biden for a state dinner on July 14, according to Israeli officials.

In the occupied West Bank The US official said he would meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and “reaffirm his lifelong commitment to the two-state solution.”

  • This station can be tense. The Palestinians have been deeply disappointed with the policies of the Biden administration so far, As mentioned by Axios.

In Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Biden will attend a summit with the leaders of the six Gulf states, as well as Egypt, Iraq and Jordan.

  • The official said Biden would discuss the truce in Yemen, human rights, economic cooperation, and Iran with the Saudis.

what do you want to watch: Prior to the visit, the Biden administration quietly mediated between Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt on a possible deal to transfer two strategic islands in the Red Sea from Egyptian sovereignty to Saudi sovereignty, As mentioned by Axios for the first time.