You're to blame for Khashoggi's murder: Biden tells Saudi prince
US President Joe Biden stated on Friday that he informed Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) that he held him accountable for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, briefly after sharing greetings with the kingdom's de-facto ruler. During the trip to reset ties with a country Biden had termed a pariah after Khashoggi's 2018 murder, he stated MBS denied any involvement.
- Despite the president's disgust over the killing, Biden and his aides decided not to isolate Saudi Arabia, which has been bolstering ties with Russia and China, due to energy and security concerns.
- US intelligence reports indicate that the crown prince approved a plan to capture or kill Saudi insider-turned-critic Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed and mutilated by Saudi agents in the kingdom's Istanbul consulate.
"With respect to the murder of Khashoggi, I raised it...making it clear what I thought of it at the time and what I think about it now," Biden reportedly stated. "I was straightforward and direct...I made my view crystal clear. I said...for an American president to be silent on an issue of human rights is inconsistent with who we're and who I'm," he added.
"He (MBS) basically said that he wasn't personally responsible for it. I indicated that I thought he was," Biden further stated. President Biden also said that they also talked about energy and that he expected Saudi Arabia, a major oil producer, to take action soon. Notably, Biden made it clear on Friday that he had no regrets about his earlier "pariah" remark.
As his body language is being observed and monitored, officials advised Biden at the beginning of his Middle East trip to avoid having close contact, such as a handshake, as a precaution against COVID-19. However, the president was engaged in handshakes during the Israel leg of his tour. Meanwhile, Biden's restricted interaction with the crown prince drew immediate condemnation in the United States.
The United States and Saudi Arabia have reaffirmed their commitment to global energy market stability, according to a joint statement carried out by the Saudi state news agency SPA. The United States is eager for Saudi Arabia and its OPEC partners to pump more oil in order to reduce the price of gasoline and alleviate the highest rate of U.S. inflation in four decades.