US President Joe Biden who is in Saudi Arabia, raised the 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi during his meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Friday and said that he believed the Saudi leader was responsible for the US-based journalist’s death.
“I raised it at the top of the meeting, making it clear what I thought of it at the time and what I think of it now,” Biden said in a speech after hours of meetings with the Saudi Crown Prince in Jeddah. “I said, very straightforwardly, for an American President to be silent on the issue of human rights is inconsistent with who we are and who I am,” Biden continued, The Hill reported.
“I’ll always stand up for our values,” he added.
However, responding to the questions raised by the media, Biden later said that the Saudi Crown Prince told him he was not “personally responsible” for Khashoggi’s murder.
“I indicated I thought he was,” Biden said. “He said he was not personally responsible for it, and he took action against those who were responsible.”
Biden received criticism earlier on Friday when he was photographed fist bumping the Saudi Crown Prince, who the US intelligence community concluded approved Khashoggi’s 2018 murder, reported The Hill citing sources.
Biden not only highlighted the progress in moving relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel towards normalization and said the US and Saudi Arabia agreed to partner on a “far-reaching” green energy initiative.
Notably, he also expressed optimism that Saudi Arabia would take steps to boost the global oil supply in the coming weeks, which had been viewed as a major goal of the trip given high domestic gas prices globally due to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. US President Joe Biden landed in Saudi Arabia on Friday for an official visit to the Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia is Biden’s final stop during his first trip to the Middle East as president of the United States. He visited the kingdom at the invitation of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
He will also attend a joint conference on Saturday with the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council member states, as well as leaders from Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq.
The trip, which began on July 13 and is expected to end on July 16, also took Biden to Israel and the West Bank. Biden’s first official visit to the Middle East shows that, in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the big energy crisis created for European countries, he has realized that he must reverse the US strategy of withdrawal from the Middle East and try to recalibrate his relations with Middle East leaders.