WASHINGTON — President Biden, who as a candidate vowed to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” in response to the assassination of a prominent dissident, has decided to travel to Riyadh this month to rebuild relations with the oil-rich kingdom at a time when he is seeking to lower gas prices at home and isolate Russia abroad.
While the logistics and timing were still being worked out, Mr. Biden planned to add the visit to a previously scheduled trip to Europe and Israel, administration officials said, asking for anonymity because the trip had not been formally announced. During his stop in Riyadh, he will meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was deemed responsible for the assassination, as well as the leaders of other Arab nations, including Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates.
The visit represents the triumph of realpolitik over moral outrage, according to foreign policy experts. In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Mr. Biden finds it necessary to court other energy producers to replace oil from Moscow and stabilize world markets. The group of oil-producing nations called OPEC Plus, led by Saudi Arabia, announced on Thursday that they would increase production modestly in July and August, and American officials expect them to do more in the fall.
The Biden administration has already been stepping up cooperation with Saudi Arabia on a variety of issues in recent months, particularly in seeking an end to the bloody eight-year-old Saudi-led war in neighboring Yemen. A two-month-old truce was extended on Thursday, and Mr. Biden praised Saudi leaders for their role. “Saudi Arabia demonstrated courageous leadership by taking initiatives early on to endorse and implement terms of the U.N.-led truce,” he said in a statement.
The diplomacy and the president’s trip represent an effort to repair the rupture in relations stemming from the brutal 2018 killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a well-known critic of the Saudi government and a columnist for The Washington Post. American intelligence concluded that Prince Mohammed, the de facto leader of the kingdom, ordered the hit team that killed and dismembered Mr. Khashoggi at a consulate in Istanbul.