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Biden’s first meeting with Crown Prince likely in June — CNN

May 19, 2022

WASHINGTON US President Joe Biden and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman could meet for the first time as soon as next month, CNN reported on Thursday quoting multiple sources.

A meeting would come after months of diplomatic heavy lifting as Biden administration officials are in talks with the Saudis about arranging a potential in-person meeting while President Biden is overseas next month, current and former US officials said. "You should count on something like this happening, it just comes down to when, not if," a former US official familiar with the discussions said.

A meeting between American and Saudi leaders would have once been considered routine, but now marks a significant shift due to the recent strain in the relationship.

Talk of a rapprochement with the Saudis, the world's largest exporter of crude oil, comes as gasoline prices continue creeping higher in the U.S.

Biden himself has remained cautious in how to approach Saudi Arabia, officials said, hoping to both avoid a full breakdown in relations while still maintaining his commitment to promoting democracy abroad.

With that dynamic as a backdrop, the National Security Council's Middle East Coordinator Brett McGurk and the State Department's Senior Adviser for Global Energy Security Amos Hochstein have been working behind the scenes to repair the relationship. The pair have traveled to Saudi Arabia four times since December, one senior official told CNN, most recently to Riyadh in February where they met with MBS directly to try to build diplomatic goodwill and lay the groundwork for a potential meeting between Biden and the Crown Prince.

Discussions have become more urgent over the last two months, as the US has tried to isolate Russia globally over its attack on Ukraine. On Tuesday, Saudi deputy defense minister Prince Khalid Bin Salman traveled to Washington and met with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Hochstein and other officials. Prince Khalid is also co-chaired a meeting of the US-Saudi Arabia Strategic Joint Planning Committee at the Pentagon.


May 19, 2022
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