Joe Biden set to visit Saudi Arabia, a country he once derided as 'pariah' state
US President Joe Biden is set to travel later this month to Saudi Arabia, a country he once derided as a "pariah" state, according to reports in a number of US media outlets.
The move comes as the US president is seeking to secure lower fuel prices and shore up support for isolating Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
In what the New York Times described as a "triumph of realpolitik over moral outrage", Biden is expected to tack on a visit to Riyadh and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) to an already planned trip to Europe and Israel.
The meeting with MBS will mark a stark contrast to Biden's comments as a presidential candidate prior to being elected in 2020, when he denounced Saudi Arabia as a "pariah" state over the killing of Washington Post and Middle East Eye columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
Although MBS has denied involvement in the killing and dismemberment of the dissident Saudi journalist in the Istanbul consulate in 2018, US intelligence reports have laid the blame squarely on the crown prince.
A senior administration official told AFP that if Biden "determines that it's in the interests of the United States to engage with a foreign leader and that such an engagement can deliver results, then he'll do so".
He added that there was "no question that important interests are interwoven with Saudi Arabia", though he refused to confirm the trip was taking place.
Biden's visit would come amid a major strain in relations between the two longstanding allies.
Washington and Riyadh have clashed over the kingdom's response to the war in Ukraine, and Saudi Arabia has rejected pleas from the Biden administration to pump more oil at a time of rising prices.
The report of the planned Saudi trip was criticised on social media, including by Saudi dissidents.