Blinken anticipated meeting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. This is the latest move toward rapprochement between the US government and the de facto leader of a key US ally. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is slated to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia.
The torture and murder of writer Jamal Khashoggi, for which the US intelligence report blamed the Crown Prince, has soured relations between the two countries in recent years. But as oil prices have fluctuated over the past year, the Biden administration has sought to reengage with the kingdom. Saudi Arabia announced this week that it would cut oil output beginning in July as part of a move by producers to shore up crude prices.
Blinken will “meet with Saudi officials to discuss US-Saudi strategic cooperation on regional and global issues and a range of bilateral issues including economic and security cooperation,” according to a State Department summary of his trip. He will also attend meetings of the US-Gulf Cooperation Council and the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.
Blinken told the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC on Monday that he would discuss normalizing ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia during his visit.
Saudi Arabia stated over the weekend that it would be cutting production by the most significant amount in years, bringing daily output down to 9 million barrels. It followed a summit in Vienna between members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Russia, and several minor producers, forming an alliance known as OPEC+.
Deputy State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel, when asked about the decision to cut output before Blinken’s visit, pointed out that gasoline prices in the US have generally declined from heights reached a year ago.
Patel stated during a briefing, “We believe that supply should meet demand, and we’ll continue to work with all producers and consumers to ensure that energy markets support economic growth and lower prices for American families.” “We’re putting our efforts there.”
As a candidate, Joe Biden vowed to make Saudi Arabia “the pariah that they are” internationally and “make them pay the price” for Khashoggi’s death. But on a visit to Saudi Arabia last year, he broke his word and fist-bumped the crown prince, offering a picture moment for the Saudi regime and infuriating human rights activists.
The president justified his conduct at the time by saying his travel to Saudi Arabia was essential to US security.
My duty as president is to ensure the safety and prosperity of the United States. In an opinion piece for The Washington Post, Vice President Joe Biden said that the United States must “counter Russia’s aggression, position ourselves to outcompete China, and work for greater stability in a consequential region of the world.”
He added that the only way to achieve these goals is by “direct engagement with countries that can impact those outcomes.”
In a complaint launched against him by Khashoggi’s fiancée, the United States decided months after Biden’s visit that bin Salman should be granted immunity.