U.S. Energy Secretary Perry to visit Saudi Arabia, Qatar

WASHINGTON - US Energy Secretary Rick Perry said on Tuesday he would soon visit Qatar and Saudi Arabia, a trip expected to occur after this week's meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
"I'm headed to the Middle East later here to Qatar and then to the kingdom," Perry told the annual meeting of the National Petroleum Council, a group of more than 200 company executives and analysts that advises the Department of Energy.
Perry said he would make the trip during "interesting times," but did not give specific dates. It will be his first trip to Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, since the killing of columnist Jamal Khashoggi in October in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Top US senators said on Tuesday they were more certain than ever after receiving a CIA briefing that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was culpable in Khashoggi's killing. Saudi Arabia has said the prince had no prior knowledge of the killing, which has strained Saudi Arabia's ties with the West.
Qatar said this week it would leave OPEC to focus on gas production, in a swipe at Saudi Arabia, the de facto leader of the group, which is trying to show unity in tackling an oil price slide.
Energy Department spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes said Perry would "engage with his energy counterparts in the region." Perry and Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al Falih are alumni of Texas A&M University and longtime friends.