Biden travels to Saudi Arabia and ends its “pariah” status

WASHINGTON – President Biden has pledged that as a candidate Making Saudi Arabia a “pariah” In response to the assassination of a prominent dissident, he decided to travel to Riyadh this month to rebuild relations with the oil-rich kingdom at a time when he seeks to lower gas prices at home and isolate Russia abroad.

While the logistics and timing are still in the works, Biden had planned to add the visit to a previously scheduled trip to Europe and Israel, said US administration officials, who asked not to be identified because the trip has not been officially announced. During his stop in Riyadh, he will meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was likewise He is responsible for the assassinationAs well as leaders of other Arab countries, including Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates.

The visit represents the victory of realpolitik over moral outrage, according to foreign policy experts. In the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Biden found it necessary to court other energy producers to replace oil from Moscow and stabilize global markets. And the group of oil producing countries called OPEC Plus, led by Saudi Arabia, announced on Thursday that it would do so Production increased modestly in July and August. US officials expect to do more in the fall, but that may not be enough to lower prices at the pump ahead of the November congressional elections.

The Biden administration has already strengthened its cooperation with Saudi Arabia on a variety of issues in recent months, particularly in seeking to end the eight-year Saudi-led war in neighboring Yemen. A two-month truce On Thursday, he extended and Mr. Biden praised Saudi leaders for their role. “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has shown courageous leadership by taking early initiatives to endorse and implement the terms of the UN-led armistice,” he said in a statement.

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Diplomacy and the President’s trip represent an attempt to mend the rift in relations caused by the brutal 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a well-known critic of the Saudi government and a columnist for The Washington Post. US intelligence concluded that Prince Mohammed, the kingdom’s de facto leader, ordered the strike team that killed and dismembered Mr. Khashoggi at a consulate in Istanbul.

While President Donald J. Trump has maintained close relations with the Saudis, Biden has promised to take a different path if elected to the White House. He said it would make the Saudis “pay the price, and actually make them pariahs as they are,” while saying there is “very little social redemption value in the current government in the Kingdom Saudi Arabia. “

After taking office, Mr. Biden released an intelligence report on the Khashoggi murder as a statement of accountability and imposed sanctions on some of those involved in the killing. But he took no action against Prince Mohammed, putting an end to his willingness to break with Riyadh even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, turbulent energy markets and increasing the importance of Saudi Arabia to Washington.

The administration argues that it ended the Trump team’s policy of blank checks for Riyadh, but that it was not willing to end America’s eight-decade friendship with Saudi Arabia, which has been an important ally on a variety of issues.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an important partner for us in dealing with extremism in the region, in dealing with the challenges posed by Iran, and I also hope to continue the process of building relations between Israel and its neighbors both near and far by continuing,” Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken said on Wednesday at Foreign Affairs Centenary Ceremony, “Expanding the Abraham Agreements”.

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Mr. Biden was already planning to end Prince Mohammed’s isolation last October when he was expected to meet the Saudi leader at a meeting of G-20 leaders, but the prince did not show up.

But the newly planned terminal in Riyadh, Previously reported by David IgnatiusA columnist for The Post has produced quick criticism from human rights groups, denouncing any diplomatic rehabilitation of Prince Mohammed.

“Right now, Biden has overlapping crises, and some human rights priorities are suffering as a result,” said Susan Nossel, chief executive of PEN America, a group that advocates for writers around the world. “The more difficult it becomes to put human rights above politics, the more important it is for the world to see a leader willing to do so.”

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