US President Joe Biden now says he had "not yet" decided to visit Saudi Arabia, a week after he opened the door to a possible trip to the oil-rich Persian Gulf state following broad criticism of the move.
Asked by a reporter in Albuquerque, New Mexico, if he would use a possible trip to the Middle East to secure a deal to improve relations between the despotic Saudi Kingdom and the Israeli regime, Biden responded, “We’ll see,” Reuters reported on Saturday.
The development came, however, a day after the local CNN news network reported that Washington had decided to ignore the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi to reset relations with the Saudi regime after coming under immense pressure to contain surging gas prices in the US amid record-setting inflation figures.
Citing senior US officials, CNN said Washington had conveyed to Riyadh that the US was prepared to move forward with a "reset" of relations, effectively moving on from Khashoggi's murder to repair mutual ties.
The report further revealed that the reset of relations would be a dramatic change for Biden, who had vowed prior to taking office to deal with Saudi Arabia as a "pariah" over Khashoggi's murder.
It also added that Biden ignored a US intelligence report released last year that directly blamed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman for orchestrating Khashoggi’s torture killing.
Therefore, the administration officials said, the American president has set aside his moral outrage to pursue warmer relations with the Saudi kingdom amid the dramatic global upheaval that Washington blames on Russia’s military operation in Ukraine in face of persisting eastward advance of the US-led NATO military alliance.
"Both sides have decided that for the sake of achieving peace and stability in the Middle East, we need to move past it," said a senior US official as cited in the CNN report.
The network also cited administration officials as saying that Saudi Arabia considers the Khashoggi case closed and has made that clear to the US.
This is while US press reports cited sources earlier in the week as saying that Biden was planning to visit Saudi Arabia, along with a trip to Europe and Israeli-occupied Palestine in late June.
Any potential visit to Saudi Arabia, according to local news analysts, would likely be aimed at bolstering ties with the regime at a time when Biden is struggling to find ways to lower gasoline prices in the US.
Reuters also cited a White House official as claiming on Friday that Washington would not overlook conduct that took place before Biden's presidency, but that "it was also important to reorient – but not rupture – relations with Saudi Arabia," pointing to the despotic regime's role as a strategic partner of the US for the past eight decades.
Biden publicly acknowledged earlier this month that he may travel to Saudi Arabia soon, in a visit expected to include talks with the infamous Saudi crown prince.
"Look, I’m not going to change my view on human rights but as president of the United States my job is to bring peace if I can and that’s what I’m going to try to do," Biden claimed in justifying his visit to the kingdom.
The visit, according to US press reports, would be aimed at bolstering relations with Saudi Arabia at a time when Biden is trying to find ways to lower gasoline prices in the United States.
Biden would participate in a Riyadh summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a regional union whose members are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, sources said as cited in the reports.
"There is a possibility that I would be going to meet with both the Israelis and some Arab countries at the time including I expect would be Saudi Arabia would b
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