US President Joe Biden acknowledged on Friday that it is possible he will travel to Saudi Arabia later this month as part of his official visit to the Middle East.
The president is expected to visit Israel and the occupied West Bank in late June to meet with Israeli and Palestinian officials. The White House has yet to release the dates of the trip, but speculation has mounted that a visit to Saudi Arabia could be tacked on to the tail-end of the visit.
Biden said that at the moment there are no firm plans for him to visit the Kingdom, but did not rule out the possibility of a visit later this month.
"I have been engaged in trying to work with how we can bring more stability and peace in the Middle East," he told reporters at the White House. "There is a possibility that I would be going to meet with both the Israelis and some Arab countries at the time, including, I expect would be Saudi Arabia."
Biden did not say whether he would be willing to sit-down with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, whom US intelligence determined ordered the grisly 2018 murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
The president said in 2019 that he would make Riyadh as a "pariah" state, in part, because of Khashoggi's murder.
But its importance for the US and global interests has grown significantly following Russia's Feb. 24 assault on Ukraine, which sent oil prices skyrocketing as the US and its allies have banned imports of Russian oil in response.
Saudi Arabia had refused to increase its output to make up for the supply shortfall until Thursday when it began to increase production as reports circulated that Biden would be paying a visit.
That and a UN-brokered truce in Yemen where Riyadh has led a Gulf coalition against the country's rebels, worsening an already dire humanitarian situation, has increased speculation that Biden would visit the country.