Will the US President make a detour during his visits to Israel and Europe? Riyadh is an important partner when it comes to oil – and according to US intelligence services, approved the murder of a journalist.
Against the background of dramatically high energy prices, US President Joe Biden is, in his own words, considering a visit to Saudi Arabia – despite his criticism of human rights violations in the kingdom.
“I’m not sure I’m going,” Biden said in Rehoboth, Delaware. “I have no direct plans at the moment. We’re looking at it.” The New York Times, on the other hand, reported, citing government circles, that Biden had already decided to travel to Riyadh. He will also meet the highly controversial Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman there.
The newspaper continued to talk about linking the visit to visits to Israel and Europe later this month. In Germany, Biden will take part in the summit of the G7 countries in Elmau at the end of June, after which he will travel to the NATO summit in Madrid. Traditionally a close US ally, Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s top oil exporters.
Biden: “Make peace if I can”
In November 2019, during the election campaign, Biden announced that Riyadh would “pay a price” for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was critical of the government, and become an “outsider”. According to US intelligence services, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the operation to capture or kill Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. After Biden took office, his government imposed sanctions on Saudi Arabia in February 2020, but Bin Salman was spared.
When asked, Biden emphasized: “I will not change my opinion on human rights. But as President of the United States, my job is to make peace when I can.” He was referring to the conflict between Israel and Arab states.
In the past few days, representatives of the Biden government have repeatedly made positive comments about Saudi Arabia – for example in connection with the increase in production by the OPEC oil cartel or the extension of the ceasefire in Yemen. The US also hopes that Saudi Arabia will normalize its relations with Israel as part of the “Abraham Accords”. With the mediation of the US government of Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump, several Arab states had concluded corresponding agreements with Israel.