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U.S. President Joe Biden could meet with Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman, or MbS, as soon as next month, anonymous sources told CNN on Thursday.
Biden officials are now in the middle of talks with Saudi Arabia about a potential meeting when the President is in Saudi Arabia for the Gulf Cooperation Council meeting next month.
President Biden has been vocal in his criticism of MBS while on the campaign trail and throughout his presidency over Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and after a CIA report that determined MBS had ordered Khashoggi’s capture and murder.
President Biden has been in communication with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman but has, until recently, refused to speak with the Crown Prince, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia.
The White House has nevertheless attempted to prompt both Saudi Arabia and the UAE to increase crude oil production in an attempt to lower crude oil prices - and as a result, gasoline prices. In March, the Wall Street Journal reported that both the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed of the UAE had declined requests for direct communication with the U.S President regarding crude oil.
Related: Why Russia’s Economy Hasn’t Collapsed Under The Weight Of Sanctions
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince has indicated that he hoped Washington would do more to strengthen bilateral relations. The latest test balloon floated by the Administration that suggested Biden could be looking to meet with MBS could be interpreted as an attempt at that strengthening.
So far, both Saudi Arabia and the UAE, along with Brazil, have been unwilling or unable to ramp up crude oil production in response to the United States’ pleas.
Mohammad bin Salman’s younger brother visited Washington this week to meet with U.S. Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and other officials.
The attempt to meet with MBS will likely cost President Biden some points among human rights supporters at home.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.