President Joe Biden intends to nominate career diplomat Michael Ratney as US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, amid strained relations between Washington and its traditional Gulf allies.
If confirmed by the Senate, Ratney, who was previously the charge d'affaires at the US Embassy in Jerusalem and the US special envoy for Syria, would be the first career diplomat to serve as ambassador to Riyadh in three decades.
US-Saudi ties have been strained by Biden's decisions last year to curtail US support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen and to publish intelligence that the kingdom's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, approved an operation to capture or kill murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
The Saudi government has denied any involvement by the crown prince, who is known as MBS, in the murder of Khashoggi.
Relations between the United States and the world's largest oil exporter have also been frayed by Biden's efforts to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which US allies in the Persian Gulf argue does too little to prevent Tehran from getting an atomic bomb.
Washington has also been trying, so far without success, to persuade Saudi Arabia to pump more oil beyond the small increase it has agreed within the OPEC+ production group to offset potential losses in Russian supplies after Moscow was sanctioned by the West over its invasion of Ukraine.
Ratney, whose official biography says he speaks Arabic and French, has previously been deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in Doha.
Report by Reuters