President Joe Biden will meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sometime this month, according to The New York Times.
The crown prince, 36, runs Saudi Arabia’s day-to-day activities for his father, 86-year-old King Salman bin Abdulaziz.
The Hill suggests the meeting would focus on convincing Riyadh to release more oil into the market.
This move could potentially bring down gas prices that are already sky-high in the United States.
“I’m certain that President Biden will ask MBS to increase oil production faster than the [Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC] group has been,” wrote Samantha Gross, a fellow and director of the Energy Security and Climate Initiative at the Brookings Institution, in an email to The Hill.
The other significance here: This reported summit would run contrary to one of Biden’s most public campaign promises from 2020.
In the run-up to that year’s presidential election, then-candidate Biden criticized the Saudi kingdom for its human rights stances, along with the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“We were going to, in fact, make them pay the price, and make them, in fact, the pariah that they are,” Biden said in a Democratic presidential debate back then.
Then, in 2021, Biden released a secret U.S. intelligence assessment saying that Mohammed bin Salman approved Khashoggi’s killing and dismemberment inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
That aside, Thursday’s report shouldn’t be a major surprise.
A number of Biden senior officials have already spoken with Saudi leadership in recent months, essentially setting the stage for the Biden-Crown Prince Mohammed meeting.
In April, William Burns, President Biden’s CIA director, had an unannounced meeting with Prince Mohammed with the intent of repairing relations with the Middle East partner, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The meeting came at a time when tensions between the U.S. and Saudis were somewhat strained, due to a variety of issues: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the reported revitalization of the Iran nuclear deal, the war in Yemen, and oil production.
Burns, a former deputy secretary of state, has studied Arabic and held postings in the Middle East. During the Obama administration, Burns reportedly helped lead secret talks with Iran that led to a multi-nation accord in 2015, thus limiting Tehran’s nuclear development “in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.”
The Biden administration reportedly views U.S. ties with Saudi Arabia “as a practical necessity,” rather than reflecting shared values and principles.