President Joe Biden visits Buffalo after mass shooting
President Joe Biden visits Buffalo after mass shooting REUTERS/Leah Millis

US President Joe Biden will travel to Saudi Arabia and Israel next month and the White House is planning to announce the trip this week, a source familiar with the planning told Reuters on Sunday.

Biden's trip to Saudi Arabia could include a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the source added.

The comments followed a report in Israel earlier on Sunday which said that Biden is likely to arrive in Israel on July 14, for his first official visit since taking office.

The President is scheduled to meet with senior Israeli government officials and also to visit and meet with Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, but it is still unclear whether such a meeting will take place in Ramallah or Bethlehem.

Biden is also interested in visiting an Arab hospital in eastern Jerusalem without Israeli escort, a move that Israel opposes due to the fact that it may be interpreted as an American attempt to establish facts on the ground.

Last week, Biden shot down reports that he was planning an official visit to Saudi Arabia.

“I have no direct plans at the moment. But let me tell you I have been engaged in trying to work with how we can bring more stability and peace in the Middle East,” he said at the time.

On Saturday, Biden said he had "not yet" decided if he will travel to Saudi Arabia.

Asked by a reporter in Albuquerque, New Mexico, if he would use a possible trip to the Middle East to secure a deal to improve Saudi-Israeli relations, Biden said, "We'll see."

The White House has said Biden feels that the crown prince is a "pariah" for his role in the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in Turkey in 2018.

Any potential visit to Saudi Arabia likely would be aimed at bolstering relations with the country at a time when Biden is trying to find ways to lower gasoline prices in the United States.

Sunday’s report comes days after a report on NBC News claimed that Biden's planned visits to Israel and Saudi Arabia have been postponed to July.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre later pushed back on the reports, arguing that a trip had never been confirmed to begin with.