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Biden says yet to decide on Saudi trip

US President Joe Biden says he has “not yet” decided if he will travel to Saudi Arabia, a week after he opened the door to a possible trip.

Sources have said Biden was planning a trip to Saudi Arabia along with a trip to Europe and Israel in late June.

The White House has said the president feels that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is a “pariah” for his role in the killing of a political opponent, Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in Turkey in 2018.

The Saudi government has denied any involvement by the crown prince.

Asked by a reporter later in Albuquerque, New Mexico, if he would use a possible trip to the Middle East to secure a deal to improve Saudi-Israeli relations, Biden said: “We’ll see.”

Any potential visit to Saudi Arabia likely would be aimed at bolstering relations with the country at a time when Biden is trying to find ways to lower petrol prices in the United States.

A White House official said on Friday that the United States 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,” noting the country’s role as a strategic partner of the US for eight decades.

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