White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Monday pushed back on reports that US President Joe Biden's planned visits to Israel and Saudi Arabia have been postponed – arguing that a trip had never been confirmed to begin with.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, Jean-Pierre was asked about comments made by Congressman Adam Schiff, who said Biden should not go to Saudi Arabia, and that he would not shake the Crown Prince’s hand.
“This trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia, when it comes, would be in the context of significant deliverables for the American people and the Middle East region,” she said in her reply.
“You know, we look forward to consulting closely with members of Congress. But again, I don’t have a trip right now to announce. So there’s really — I don’t want to get ahead of something that we’re just — don’t have anything for — to share,” added Jean-Pierre.
Pressed again later in the briefing on the issue, she replied, “I’m just saying that I just don’t have anything — it’s a hypothetical, and I just don’t have anything to announce or to speak to about a meeting. You said, ‘He’s going to be meeting with…’. I’m telling you I don’t have anything to announce at this time.”
The comments follow a report on NBC News claiming that Biden's planned visits to Israel and Saudi Arabia have been postponed to July.
According to a US official, the move has nothing to do with the internal political situation in Israel. A senior Israeli source claimed, however, that according to estimates, the postponement would allow the Biden administration to get a better indication on the fate of the Bennett government in the coming weeks.
The White House declined to comment on the reported changes, and the Israeli and Saudi embassies in Washington did not respond to inquiries made on Friday.