Joe Biden holds Saudi Crown Prince responsible for Jamal Khashoggi's murder
- The US President said that the crown prince denied involvement in the murder
- US intelligence has said that the crown prince approved an operation to capture or kill Khashoggi
- Biden said what happened to Khashoggi was outrageous
US President Joe Biden said that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is responsible for the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. This comment, by the US President comes shortly after exchanging a fist bump with the kingdom's de facto ruler.
On a trip to reset relations with a country he had called a pariah after Khashoggi's killing in 2018, the US President said that the crown prince, known as MbS, denied involvement in the murder and said he had held those responsible to account.
Speaking to reporters, Biden said, "With respect to the murder of Khashoggi, I raised it at the top of the meeting, making it clear what I thought of it at the time and what I think about it now."
"I was straight forward and direct in discussing it. I made my view crystal clear. I said very straightforwardly, for an American president to be silent on an issue of human rights is inconsistent with who we are and who I am," he added.
Meanwhile, US intelligence has said that the crown prince approved an operation to capture or kill Khashoggi, a Saudi insider-turned-critic, who was murdered and dismembered by Saudi agents inside the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul. Biden said what happened to Khashoggi was outrageous.
"He basically said that he was not personally responsible for it," Biden said of the crown prince's response during their meeting.
The president said they also discussed energy and that he expected to see action from Saudi Arabia, a major oil producer, on energy in the coming weeks.
As a presidential candidate, Biden had said the kingdom should be made a "pariah" on the world stage because of Khashoggi's murder. He said on Friday he did not regret that comment.
Khashoggi had been living in self-imposed exile in Virginia. The late journalist's fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, posted a photo of the fist bump on Twitter and said Khashoggi would have written: "Is this the accountability you promised for my murder? The blood of MBS's next victims is on your hands."
The US President also told reporters in Jeddah that he was sorry she felt that way.
Pressure over oil trade
Meanwhile, the US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that energy and security interests prompted Biden and his associates to decide not to isolate the Gulf oil giant, which has been strengthening ties with Russia and China, despite the president's disgust over the killing.
Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, the Saudi ambassador to Washington reiterated in an article for Politico the kingdom's "abhorrence" of the killing, describing it as a gruesome atrocity, and said it cannot define US-Saudi ties.
Biden will discuss energy security with leaders of Gulf oil producers and hopes to see more action by OPEC+ to boost output, but there were unlikely to be any bilateral announcements from the talks, Sullivan told reporters en route to Jeddah.
Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs Adel Al-Jubeir said there was no agreement made on oil and that Saudi and OPEC countries would make a decision based on the market, not "hysteria" or "politics."
The OPEC+ group that includes Russia meets next on Aug. 3.
Biden, who flew to Jeddah after visiting Israel, also touted a pair of Saudi moves widely seen as signs of a gradual thaw between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Riyadh agreed to allow more overflights of its territory from Israel, which Biden said he hoped would lead to broader normalisation of relations.
He also announced a US-brokered deal between Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia under which a small US-led international peacekeeping contingent will leave the strategic Red Sea island of Tiran.
The two countries also stressed the need to prevent Iran from interfering in internal affairs of countries, supporting terrorism through its affiliated armed groups, and destabilising the security and stability of the region.