Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman defended himself Friday before U.S. President Joe Biden against the declassified CIA report that holds him responsible for the murder of U.S. journalist Yamal Khashogi at the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul in October 2018.
As reported by President Biden to the media, Bin Salman has not only assured not to be «personally responsible» for the death of Khashogi, but has asserted to have taken «action against those responsible».
«I indicated that I thought I was (responsible) (…). He said he was not personally responsible for it, and took action against those responsible,» Biden told the media present at the exit of his meeting with Bin Salman in the Saudi city of Jeddah, according to the newspaper ‘The Hill’.
President Biden landed Friday in Jeddah, where he plans to spend the next two days as part of his tour of the Middle East, which has already taken him to Israel, and now will meet both Bin Salman and King Salman bin Abdulaziz and other senior officials of the country.
The stop of the tenant of the White House has raised controversy, although the president has always assured that the visit is motivated by «strategic» issues and has stressed that respect for Human Rights will be one of the main points to be addressed with the Saudi representatives.
One of the most criticized issues has been precisely the events related to the death of Khashogi. In fact, Friday’s greeting between Biden and Bin Salman has been described as «shameful» by the executive director of the newspaper ‘Washington Post’, Fred Ryan, where the murdered journalist worked.
The journalists have reproached him for this greeting – a fist bump between the president and the prince – because of the possibility that another incident like that of Khashogi could happen again.
«I just made it clear that if something like that happens again, you will get answers,» Biden said, before pointing out that the U.S. president can criticize the actions of other leaders, just as he did with «Xi Jinping and slavery,» he said.
«For the president of the United States to remain silent about a clear violation of human rights is totally incompatible with who we are (…) and what we believe in, so I will not remain silent,» said the US president.
Another of the most questioned points to Biden has been his contradiction regarding the position that the United States would take towards Saudi Arabia. Due to the Khashogi case, the president insisted that Washington’s position would be to turn Saudi Arabia into an international «pariah», although his visit seems to go against this statement.
In this regard, the tenant of the White House has assured that he does not regret what he said, and stressed that what happened to the journalist «was outrageous».
Biden thus began a new stage of his tour of the region in Saudi Arabia after a two-day visit to Israel, where he met with senior officials of the country, as well as with Palestinian authorities, and where he stressed that the end of the conflict requires a two-state solution.
Regarding Saudi Arabia being one of the stops on his tour of the region, Biden acknowledged Friday in Jeddah that the United States cannot leave «a vacuum» in the Middle East «to be filled by Russia or China». «We are getting results,» he said.