Biden to travel to Middle East in July, White House says

The administration is already defending against the emerging narrative that Biden’s trip could be seen as letting Saudi Arabia off the hook. | Nathan Howard/Getty Images

President Joe Biden will travel to the Middle East next month, making stops in Israel, the West Bank and then Saudi Arabia, where he’ll seek to rebuild relations after vowing to make the kingdom a “pariah.”

The president’s travels will have him in the region July 13-16, and he’ll meet with more than a dozen of his counterparts, a senior administration official said. The final leg of the trip, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, could shape the administration’s goals in the region for the rest of the year and 2023, the official said.

The trip comes just a year after the Biden administration concluded that Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader ordered the brutal murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, an American resident. The highly anticipated visit to the oil-rich kingdom, and a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, will be met with mixed reception as the president ventures to address high gas prices and inflation at home while also not muddying the administration’s promises to keep human rights at the center of its foreign policy doctrine.

“From the earliest days of our administration, we made it clear that U.S. policy demanded recalibration in relations with this important country, but not a rupture,” the official said. “And that is because we have important interests interwoven with Saudi Arabia.”

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