Change of tone: Ahead of Biden’s potential visit to Saudi Arabia, the White House praises the royal family

Ahead of US President Joe Biden’s announced visit to Saudi Arabia, the White House praised Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for extending the ceasefire in Yemen.

The US administration’s change of tone is remarkable given that Biden had blamed bin Salman squarely for the murder and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of the crown prince, in Turkey in 2018.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that bin Salman and Saudi King Salman deserved credit for their role in extending the truce in the war in Yemen.

“This truce would not be possible without cooperative diplomacy from across the region. We specifically acknowledge the leadership of King Salman and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia for helping cement the truce,” she said.

According to reports, the US president will visit Riyadh and meet bin Salman during a trip to Europe and Israel in late June.

Although the purpose of the trip has not been officially stated, it is understood that Biden aims to strengthen relations with Saudi Arabia at a time of skyrocketing gas prices in the United States.

Biden would attend a Riyadh summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a regional union whose members are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Reuters reported citing sources.

Jean-Pierre did not confirm that Biden’s trip was planned, but said, “What the president is primarily focused on is how his engagements with foreign leaders advance American interests. That’s as true with Saudi Arabia as anywhere else.”

(With agency contributions)

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Post expires at 9:51am on Monday June 13th, 2022