Perry to visit Saudi Arabia, Qatar

Energy Secretary Rick PerryJames (Rick) Richard PerryThe Hill's 12:30 Report: State of the Union takeaways | Sights and sounds from the night | Virginia attorney general admits he wore blackface Energy Secretary Rick Perry is designated survivor for 2019 State of the Union Live coverage: Trump delivers State of the Union MORE said Tuesday he will visit Qatar and Saudi Arabia in the near future to meet with representatives of the two major oil and gas producing nations.

Shaylyn Hynes, a spokesperson for the Energy Department, said Perry would travel to the Middle East "to engage with his energy counterparts in the region," but did not provide further details about the visit.

Perry told attendees at Tuesday morning's National Petroleum Council that he would head to the Middle East during "interesting times," but did not provide specific dates or reasoning for his upcoming trip. 

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"There’s never been a more interesting time from my perspective to be in the oil and gas business,” Perry said at the event, according to Politico.

Perry announced the trip as senators were briefed by CIA Director Gina Haspel about the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Multiple senators indicated that they came away from the briefing confident that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was involved in the killing of Khashoggi, who was a critic of Saudi leadership.

While the Trump administration has imposed sanctions against individuals believed to be responsible for Khashoggi's death, it has not targeted the crown prince directly.

President Trump has drawn criticism for repeatedly pointing to the crown prince's denials of any involvement in the journalist's death, and citing the importance of the economic relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.

Perry's visit will also follow a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which is scheduled for Thursday. The member nations are likely to discuss oil production rates, an area of interest for Trump.

Qatar announced this week that it intends to leave OPEC in January to focus on liquified natural gas production.

Perry last traveled to Saudi Arabia about a year ago.