“From the earliest days of our administration, we have made it clear that US policy calls for a recalibration in relations with this important country, but not a break,” the official said. “And that’s because we have significant interests related to Saudi Arabia.”
The administration is already defending itself against the emerging narrative that Biden’s trip could be seen as letting Saudi Arabia off the hook. During a 2019 Democratic presidential debate, Biden said he would make the Saudis “pay the price” for killing Khashoggi and “effectively make him the pariah that he is.”
The official pointed to the administration’s release of the intelligence report concluding that bin Salman approved the operation that led to Khashoggi’s 2018 killing, and the State Department’s subsequent unveiling of a new policy called l Khashoggi’s ban, which allows the United States to restrict visas against those who oppress journalists and dissidents. The United States has repeatedly used the ban to impose sanctions on more than 70 Saudi individuals and entities, the official said, noting that this retaliation was imposed while rebuilding relations with the country.
“Human rights are always part of the conversation,” the senior administration official said. “The president will not change his view on human rights. He said it clearly. And he also made it clear that as President of the United States, it’s his job to “bring peace if I can”…and he’s focusing our entire national security team on getting things done for the American people. .
In Saudi Arabia, Biden will participate in a Gulf Cooperation Council summit with the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Iraq, Jordan and Israel. Egypt. The White House will release more details of Biden’s additional meetings, the official said, although the president is expected to hold a bilateral meeting with bin Salman.
Biden also plans to discuss the UN-led truce in Yemen; ways to expand “regional economic and security cooperation”, for example through infrastructure and climate initiatives; Iran’s continued security threats; and ensuring global food and energy security as Russia’s war in Ukraine destabilizes global oil markets.
Before flying to the kingdom, Biden will meet with Israeli leaders in Israel to discuss the nation’s security and integration in the region. He will then travel to the West Bank to meet with Palestinian leaders to “consult with the Palestinian Authority and reiterate its strong support for a two-state solution, with equal measures of security, freedom and opportunity for the Palestinian people.” . said the head of administration.