Two senior White House officials are reportedly in Saudi Arabia for hush-hush talks on a deal that could see Washington and Riyadh restore ties and advance toward Saudi normalization with Israel.
US President Joe Biden’s Middle East envoy Brett McGurk and State Department international energy envoy Amos Hochstein arrived in Riyadh on Tuesday according to Axios, citing current and former US officials.
The two were in talks aimed at securing a package of understanding between the US and Saudi Arabia that could pave the way for a possible meeting between Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman when the president visits the region next month.
Biden had kept Riyadh at arm’s length, but is now keen for the Saudis to up oil production as he deals with runaway inflation and sky-high energy prices that have only been made worse by the war in Ukraine.
CNN reported last week that talks over a possible meeting were underway in Washington, with a former US official saying they were a question of “when, not if.”
There is no confirmation of the visit or the talks.
According to Axios, the talks may be tied to US mediation of negotiations between Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel that could lead Jerusalem and Riyadh to eventually normalize ties.