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The White House is set to announce that President Joe Biden will travel to Saudi Arabia, according to a report.
Biden will meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a visit to the region next month, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing two officials with “direct knowledge of the plans.”
The announcement could be made as early as Monday and comes amid a global oil shortage caused by the Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24. After Ukraine was invaded, countries from around the world announced sanctions and an oil embargo against Russia, effectively removing its oil from the global supply.
The oil shortage has been a pain for Biden’s administration as it has been unable to stop rising gas prices, which just crossed $5 per gallon for the first time in U.S. history.
During his meeting with senior Saudi officials, the U.S. president is also expected to discuss the Iran nuclear deal and rising tensions in the country, according to the report.
Biden’s visit comes as a surprise to many on Capitol Hill as Biden has been critical of Saudi Arabia in the past and many lawmakers are critical of the country’s human rights violations as well.
“I wouldn’t go and shake his hand,” Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff said during an interview last weekend. “Until Saudi Arabia makes a radical change in terms of its human rights, I wouldn’t want anything to do with him.
Biden told reporters earlier on Saturday that he did not have any plans to visit the country.
“Not yet,” Biden responded when asked if he had plans to travel to Saudi Arabia.
Biden’s trip to the Middle East will also include a visit to Israel.