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At a time of high gasoline prices, U.S. President needs oil-rich Saudi Arabia’s help as he encourages efforts to end the war in Yemen

Leaving a host of domestic issues like 40-year-high inflation, sky-high gas prices, a recent rash of violence in big cities across the nation and the ongoing debate over abortion—President Joe Biden is defending his decision to travel to Saudi Arabia saying human rights would be on his agenda as he gave a preview of a trip on which he aims to reset ties with the crown prince, who he previously denounced as a pariah.

Biden will hold bilateral talks with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and his leadership team, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on his visit to the Middle East this week.

The Crown Prince Mohammed, Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, was believed to be behind the 2018 murder of Washington Post journalist and political opponent Jamal Khashoggi, according to the U.S. intelligence community.

Biden needs oil-rich Saudi Arabia’s help at a time of high gasoline prices and as he encourages efforts to end the war in Yemen after the Saudis recently extended a ceasefire there. The United States also wants to curb Iran’s influence in the Middle East and China’s global sway.

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Biden argued that Saudi Arabia had recently helped to restore unity among the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, had fully supported the truce in Yemen and was working to stabilize oil markets with other OPEC producers.

Additionally, Biden said he will be the first president to fly from Israel to Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, next week, which he said would be a small symbol of “budding relations and steps toward normalization” between Israel and the Arab world.

The president will first stop in Israel on his July 13-16 trip.

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