President Joe Biden defended his trip next week to Saudi Arabia as an opportunity to “reorient — but not rupture — relations with a country that’s been a strategic partner for 80 years,” he wrote in a Washington Post op-ed.

Biden is scheduled to travel to the Middle East July 13-16 to promote peace in the region and make a desperate effort to convince Saudi Arabia to help ease record-high gas prices, surging amidst Russia’s war with Ukraine.

Saudi Arabia, Biden wrote, is “now working with my experts to help stabilize oil markets with other OPEC producers.”

“I know that there are many who disagree with my decision to travel to Saudi Arabia,” he continued. “My views on human rights are clear and long-standing, and fundamental freedoms are always on the agenda when I travel abroad, as they will be during this trip, just as they will be in Israel and the West Bank.”

When he travels to Israel,  Biden will receive the country’s highest civilian honor, the Israeli Presidential Medal of Honor. Israeli President Isaac Herzog said the award was  “to thank him for being a true friend of Israel,” and for Biden’s “decades-long support for Israel’s security, deepening our alliance & fighting antisemitism.”

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