Biden won’t commit to bringing up Khashoggi murder with Saudi crown prince
President Biden on Thursday indicated he would raise the topic of human rights during his meeting with Saudi Arabian leaders this week, but would not commit specifically to bringing up the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“My views on Khashoggi have been absolutely positively clear, and I have never been quiet about talking about human rights,” Biden said at a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid.
When Biden was pressed again on whether he would specifically bring up Khashoggi’s killing with the crown prince, Biden did not directly answer.
“I always bring up human rights. But my position on Khashoggi has been so clear. If anyone doesn’t understand it, in Saudi Arabia or anywhere else, then they haven’t been around for a while,” Biden said.
The president will make the controversial trip to Saudi Arabia on Friday, and he is expected to meet Saturday with the nation’s leaders, including the crown prince.
U.S. intelligence has concluded that Crown Prince Mohammed played a direct role in ordering the 2018 killing of Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident who was critical of the crown prince as a columnist for The Washington Post.
Biden pledged on the campaign trail to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” on the global stage for its human rights record, but political realities such as high gas prices, tensions with Iran and efforts to foster collaboration in the Middle East led to this week’s trip.
“There are so many issues at stake that I want to make clear that we can continue to lead in the region and not create a vacuum, a vacuum that is filled by China and/or Russia,” Biden said Thursday. “And so the purpose of the visit is to coordinate with nine heads of state, whether in U.S. interests and I believe in Israel interests as well.”