uS President Joe Biden said he warned Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of future acts of violence against government critics at their meeting in Jeddah. He made it clear to the heir to the throne that another act like the murder of journalist and government critic Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 would result in a “response” from the United States, Biden said on Friday evening after his consultations with bin Salman in the Saudi Arabian newspaper port city. The murder of Khashoggi was “at the top” of the topics of conversation.
However, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has denied any responsibility. “He was basically saying that he wasn’t personally responsible for it. I indicated that I think he is,” Biden said on a visit to Saudi Arabia on Friday. He addressed the topic “crystal clearly” right at the beginning of the meeting with the Saudi leadership. “I don’t regret anything I’ve said. What happened to Khashoggi was outrageous,” Biden said.
Cold reception in Jeddah
Upon arriving in Jeddah, Democrat Biden received an extremely cold reception compared to his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump. He was greeted at the airport by the governor of Mecca, Chalid al-Faisal, and the ambassador to the United States, Rima bint Bandar. The crown prince was waiting for him at the palace. There was no handshake – both just bumped their fists together. However, the US President shook hands with King Salman longer.
At the beginning of Biden’s first trip to the Middle East as US President, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre announced that he wanted to have as little physical contact as possible because of Corona. Reporters speculated that Biden wanted to avoid shaking hands with the crown prince. During his visit to Jerusalem, Biden sometimes greeted his hosts with an outstretched fist, but also shook hands – such as those of opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu.
After the reception, both delegations came together for a working meeting. At a long conference table in the palace, Biden and the crown prince sat opposite each other, surrounded by ministers and other government officials. Reporters from Biden’s delegation reported that neither the US President nor the Crown Prince had answered journalists’ questions about the Khashoggi murder.
The journalist Khashoggi, who lives in the USA, was brutally killed by a special commando in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018. US secret services see the crown prince – also known by his acronym “MBS” – as directly responsible. He has repeatedly denied ordering the killing. Biden has had to defend his trip and meeting with the crown prince against criticism for weeks. The US President arrived in Saudi Arabia from Israel on Friday.
Khashoggi’s fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, tweeted an image addressed to the US President of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman greeting Biden with the caption: “The blood of MBS’s next victims is on your hands.” I’m sorry she feels that way.”
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