President Biden will visit Saudi Arabia this month after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed Thursday to increase production, according to multiple reports.
OPEC’s decision to expand production could help Biden tamp down domestic inflation, which at 8.3% was near a four-decade high in April, driven in part by soaring energy prices.
Biden’s trip comes after his administration sought to sideline the absolute monarchy’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman — who US intelligence agencies believe ordered the 2018 operation that resulted in the death and alleged dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, a US resident who died after being lured to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Biden’s trip also coincides with a new two-month truce between a Saudi-led coalition and Iran-allied rebel fighters in Yemen — which addresses the Biden administration’s pressure to resolve the fighting that’s led to a humanitarian catastrophe.
Biden’s consideration of a trip to Saudi Arabia was reported by multiple news outlets Wednesday and his final decision was reported by the New York Times and Washington Post on Thursday afternoon.
The White House did not immediately release a statement on the decision.
In addition to his travel to Saudi Arabia, Biden is scheduled to attend summits of the G-7 and NATO nations in Germany and Spain, respectively, at the end of this month.
It’s unclear whether Biden will visit Israel during the trip. Although the president accepted an invitation by Israel’s prime minister, those plans were thrown into question following the killing last month of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, a US citizen who was shot while covering an Israeli raid in the West Bank.