The White House is dodging questions on whether President Joe Biden will bring up the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi when he meets with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia next month.
‘We’re not overlooking any content that happened before when the president took office,’ White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said when asked about it.
‘It’s important to also emphasize that while we collaborate relationships, we are not looking to rupture relationships.’
She said human rights would be part of the conversation.
‘Human rights issues, human rights conversation is something that the president brings up with many leaders and plans to do so,’ she noted.
The White House is dodging questions on whether President Joe Biden will bring up the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi when he meets with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
Biden previously called the crown prince a ‘pirah’ after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi (above)
Deputy White House spokesman John Kirby also wouldn’t commit to Biden talking about Khashoggi’s murder with MBS.
‘I’m not going to get ahead of the individual discussions the president has had. He has held Saudi Arabia accountable for a series of measures when he released and published that report from the intelligence community about the murder of Jamal khashoggi. He has spoken strongly about that,’ he said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
He also said Biden would discuss human rights.
‘Obviously human rights is something we bring up with partners and friends and folks all over the world every time we meet. It’s a key component of the president’s foreign policy. He believes that foreign policy has to be rooted in our values. Obviously human rights will come up as a part of that discussion,’ he noted.
Earlier this month, the White House said Biden still felt MBS was a ‘pariah’ for what U.S. intelligence says was his role in the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in Turkey in 2018.
During the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden referred to MBS as a ‘pariah’ in the aftermath of Khashoggi’s killing.
The Washington Post journalist was murdered in Turkey in 2018. The CIA has concluded with ‘high confidence’ that bin Salman ordered the assassination.
Khashoggi’s murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul tainted the crown prince’s image as a reformist.
Human rights advocates also have encouraged Biden not to make the trip without bringing up Saudi’s treatment of its citizens.
Biden will visit the kingdom on July 15 and 16 in order to repair the relations between the U.S. and the second largest holder of petroleum reserves in the world.
His trip will also include stops in Israel and the West Bank, the White House announced on Tuesday.
The White House has down played the president’s meeting with MBS, saying the president will meet with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and that the crown prince will be a part of that.
‘Yes, we can expect the president to see the Crown Prince as well,’ White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday.
Saudi Arabia, in its statement on the trip, said Biden and MBS would meet.
‘The crown prince and President Biden will hold official talks that will focus on various areas of bilateral cooperation and joint efforts to address regional and global challenges,’ the statement said.
But White House deputy spokesman John Kirby said Biden will meet with the King and the meeting with MBS will be a part of that.
‘He’s going to meet bilaterally with King Salman and King Salman’s team and the crown prince is part of that team. I suspect he’ll see the crown prince in the context of the meetings. He’s grateful for the king’s willingness to host the GCC plus three. He’s looking forward to, again, a wide scope of discussions,’ he said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
While in Saudi Arabia next month President Biden will meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler
‘We’re not overlooking any content that happened before when the president took office,’ White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said when asked about journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
The trip comes as gas prices in the United States continue to surge, a key domestic issue Biden hopes to tackle going into November’s midterm election.
Over the weekend, the national average for a gallon of gas reached $5 for the first time in American history.
Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest producer of oil, and as a key member of OPEC plays a large part in setting oil prices worldwide.
The White House announced the trip after Saudi Arabia this month helped nudge OPEC+ to ramp up oil production by 648,000 barrels per day in July and August.
At the time, the White House put out a statement thanking the kingdom, a move that was seen as a step toward trying to thaw the icy relations between Washington D.C. and Riyadh.
Biden also praised the kingdom for agreeing to extend a United Nations-mediated cease-fire in its seven-year war with Yemen. The president called the decison ‘courageous.’
The White House has emphasized King Salman is the ruler of the kingdom. Biden is said to see the king as his equivalent, not the crown prince.
The president is visiting at the invitation of King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, Jean-Pierre said in a statement Tuesday morning.
She said Biden will discuss the UN-mediated truce in Yemen, economic security, deterring threats from Iran, advancing human rights, and ensuring global energy and food security.