Biden to Meet With Saudi Crown Prince During Middle East Trip

U.S. President Joe Biden arrives at Philadelphia International Airport, in Philadelphia, U.S., June 14, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

U.S. President Joe Biden will see Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a trip to the Middle East in July, the White House said on Tuesday.

Biden will travel to the Middle East from July 13 to July 16, the White House said in a statement, starting in Israel and the West Bank before landing in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia, he was expected to meet with regional leaders as part of a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the White House said.

The visit to the oil-rich kingdom comes as Biden is trying to find ways to lower U.S. gasoline prices. The group of oil-producing nations called OPEC+, led by Saudi Arabia, recently agreed to boost oil production to help bring down prices.

Earlier, a senior U.S. official said that Biden would meet with Prince Mohammed, Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, but the White House statement made no mention of the meeting.

Asked about the omission aboard Air Force One, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters, "Yes, we can expect the president to see the crown prince."

The senior official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said if Biden "determines it's in his interest to engage with any particular leader, and if such an engagement can deliver results, then he will do so."

The official pointed to the crown prince's role in help insecure an extension of a U.N.-brokered truce between Yemen's warring parties as an example of the need to engage with Saudi Arabia as way to help bring peace and security to the region.

During the stop in Israel, Biden will emphasize the U.S. commitment to the country, which includes billions in military support.

He will also hold a virtual summit with the leaders of Israel, India, and the United Arab Emirates as a way to demonstrate that regional partnerships extend beyond the Middle East, the official said.

While in the West Bank, Biden plans to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other leaders to reaffirm his commitment to a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine, the official said.

He will end the trip in Saudi Arabia where he will meet close to a dozen leaders from Kuwait, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar, as well as Iraq, Jordan and Egypt.

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