Two senior Biden administration officials are on a secret visit to Saudi Arabia for talks on a possible deal between Riyadh, Israel, and Egypt, the US-Saudi relationship, and a possible deal to increase oil production, Axios reported on Wednesday.
White House Middle East coordinator Brett McGurk and the State Department’s energy envoy Amos Hochstein arrived in Riyadh on Tuesday, the report said.
Biden is eager to reach understandings between the US and Saudi Arabia ahead of his trip to the Middle East next month, which he hopes will include a stop in Riyadh.
Saudi-US ties have deteriorated since Biden entered the office and there are even reports that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman refused to take phone calls from the president.
In the past, Biden repeatedly slammed the Kingdom for its human rights record, even vowing during his campaign for president to make Saudia Arabia the pariah it is. His rhetoric stood in sharp contrast to that of former President Trump, who prioritized maintaining warm relations with Riyadh.
Biden’s views changed once in office and following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the resulting global energy crisis, the US placed the repair of its relations with the world’s oil giant on the top of its priority list. The faltering deal with Iran also plays a part in the US interest in closer ties as Saudi Arabia serves as a counterbalance to Iran in the Middle East.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)