“My views on Khashoggi have been absolutely, positively clear. And I have never been quiet about talking about human rights,” Biden said. “The reason I’m going to Saudi Arabia, though, is much broader. It’s to promote U.S. interests — promote U.S. interests in a way that I think we have an opportunity to reassert what I think we made a mistake of walking away from: our influence in the Middle East.”

Whether Joe Biden’s first trip to the Middle East as president ends a success or a failure may hinge on what happens when the American leader first locks eyes with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, AP reports.

The world will be watching the highly anticipated meeting Friday to see if the gaffe-prone U.S. president and notoriously vengeful Saudi prince can begin repairing a rift between the two strategic partners, with the ebb and flow of the world’s oil supply hanging in the balance.

There’s been considerable speculation about both the choreography and the substance of how Biden, who had vowed as a presidential candidate to treat the Saudis as a “pariah” for their human rights record, will go about interacting with the crown prince.

Asked Thursday whether he would raise the 2018 killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S.-based journalist and critic of the kingdom, with the crown prince, Biden didn’t give a direct answer.

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