Joe Biden will travel to Saudi Arabia this month where he will meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, reneging on his promise to treat the kingdom as a “pariah” and not to trade with the controversial leader, The New York Times reported on Thursday. .

• Read also: OPEC opens its floodgates further in the face of soaring prices

Speculation on such a trip in June was rife, but according to the American daily, it has now been confirmed: the President of the United States “has decided to go to Riyadh this month to rebuild relations with the oil kingdom in when he seeks to drive down gasoline prices in his country and isolate Russia on the international stage”.

There, “he will meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman”, nicknamed “MBS”, and other leaders of Arab countries including Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates, the newspaper added.

He said logistical details and timing were yet to be confirmed, but the visit would be in addition to a trip already planned for late June to Europe and Israel.

CNN also reported that preparations for such a meeting were well advanced.

“The president is looking forward to the opportunity to engage with leaders in the Middle East, but I have nothing to announce today,” the White House spokeswoman said. Karine Jean-Pierre.

Before his election, Joe Biden had ruled that Saudi Arabia should be treated as a “pariah” state because of the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Once in power, the Democrat published in February 2021 the US intelligence report accusing “MBS” of having “validated” the murder.

Washington then spoke of a “recalibration” of the relationship with this strategic Gulf partner, to turn the page on the close proximity of Donald Trump’s presidency without going as far as a break. Joe Biden’s entourage explained that the president would only speak to King Salman and not to the prince, the privileged interlocutor of his Republican predecessor.

The United States has also stepped up efforts to end the war in Yemen, where Ryad militarily supports the government against the Houthi rebels.

The decision to move to Saudi Arabia, if confirmed, comes at a time when the international community has snatched the two-month renewal of a fragile truce in Yemen. Joe Biden on Thursday hailed the “courageous leadership” of Saudi leaders in this regard.

It also comes as OPEC, a cartel of oil-exporting countries led by Riyadh, decided on Thursday to boost its production after months of wait-and-see despite soaring prices, also responding to calls from Westerners.