WASHINGTON, June 5 — US President Joe Biden has pushed back a possible trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia, US media reported yesterday.
Biden reportedly planned to go ahead with the long-rumored Saudi stop during an upcoming overseas tour at the end of June. But according to CNN and NBC, he has postponed the visit back to July.
The White House declined to comment on the potential delay.
Biden confirmed Friday he was considering a trip to Saudi Arabia, which would be a stark reversal after he called for the kingdom to be made a pariah state.
The reported decision came shortly after Saudi Arabia addressed two of Biden’s priorities by agreeing to a production hike in oil — which could help tame rocketing US inflation — and helping extend a truce in war-battered Yemen.
CNN said that Biden would meet Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, 36-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was accused by US intelligence of ordering the 2018 murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The trip would reportedly happen around the time Biden travels to a NATO summit in Spain and Group of Seven summit in Germany later this month.
He is also widely expected to travel to Israel where, as in Saudi Arabia, he is sure to face pointed questions about slow-moving US diplomacy with the two countries’ rival, Iran.
Biden, who prides himself as a champion of democracy against authoritarian regimes, has decided to reassess relations with Riyadh, placing a greater emphasis on human rights in his diplomacy.
But soaring gas prices, due to supply chain snarls exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have infuriated Americans and sent Biden’s popularity plummeting.
Biden’s administration is seeking to convince Saudi Arabia to increase its oil production in the hope that this will help ease supply shortages and bring down prices at the pump. — AFP