JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia —
President Biden arrived at the Royal Palace here on Friday to meet with the leaders of the oil-rich country he once vowed to make a “pariah” over its human rights abuses as the White House is scrambling to mitigate record inflation and high gas prices hammering Americans in an election year.
Even as he ventured to this sandy desert resort along the Red Sea in search of greater oil production, Biden sought to downplay the significance of his visit — limiting media access to his meetings and offering a fist bump instead of a traditional handshake as he entered the palace with Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Concerned about the political implications of meeting with Mohammed, accused by American intelligence officials of ordering the slaying of a U.S.-based journalist, the White House cited as the rationale for visiting Saudi Arabia a conference with other Middle Eastern leaders.
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