U.S. had been hoping to avoid meeting with Mohammed bin Salman, linked to death of journalist

President Joe Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan is traveling to Saudi Arabia on Monday to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as the U.S. presses for a cease-fire in the yearslong war between the kingdom and Houthi rebels in Yemen, the Associated Press reports.

Sullivan will be the highest-ranking Biden administration official to visit Saudi Arabia. Besides seeing the crown prince, often referred to by his initials, MBS, Sullivan is expected to meet with deputy defense minster Khalid bin Salman, a brother to the crown prince, according to two senior administration officials. The officials were not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The Biden White House has largely steered clear of the crown prince since making public in February a CIA report that showed MBS likely approved the killing of Washington Post columnist and Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi in a 2018 operation at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

But the White House has resolved that bringing an end to perhaps the world’s most complex conflict can’t be done without engaging with the most senior Saudi officials face to face, one senior administration official said.

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