White House Assured Khashoggi’s Wife His Death Will Be Raised With MbS
Joe Biden is set to be the first American president in history to fly straight from Israel to Saudi Arabia on Friday. He’s expected to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Saturday, though it’s as yet unclear if this will be one-on-one or in the presence of other heads of state and officials from the region.
On Thursday Biden refused to commit to raising the issue of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi when he meets with MbS when pressed by a reporter in a joint news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid.
“I always bring up human rights,” Biden said in response, dodging the initial question on whether he’ll raise Khashoggi’s name. “But my position on Khashoggi has been so clear. If anyone doesn’t understand it, in Saudi Arabia or anywhere else, then they haven’t been around for a while.”
As The Associated Press wrote of the exchange:
Biden said the purpose of his trip to Saudi Arabia is “broader” and designed to “reassert” U.S. influence in the Middle East. He’s scheduled to attend a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes several Arab nations.
He quickly pivoted in his comments alongside the Israeli leader to broader geopolitics and regional security: “I want to make clear that we can continue to lead in the region and not create a vacuum, a vacuum that is filled by China and or Russia, against the interests of both Israel and the United States and many other countries,” Biden said.
Contradicting Biden’s obfuscation, Khashoggi’s widow issued a statement saying that the White House assured her that the president will bring up the murder of her husband with crown prince bin Salman.
According to The Hill:
The widow of murdered Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi says the Biden administration promised to bring up her husband’s death during his visit to Saudi Arabia later this week.
Hanan Khashoggi told Spectrum News Wednesday that she’s sure the president will bring up during key meetings U.S. intelligence that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved Jamal Khashoggi’s 2018 killing, saying the administration assured her that her husband’s case would be discussed.
“This is [an] opportunity for me to thank President Biden and his administration. He did keep his promise by bringing [the] report of intelligence out in February last year, and he did take action, assertive action against [those involved] in my husband tragedy,” Khashoggi said. She said specifically of White House promises:
“They assured me they will bring this concern up special, about the case of my husband, Jamal Khashoggi.”
— Javier Blas (@JavierBlas) July 14, 2022
“I think we can make the best out of this visit,” she said of Biden’s impending visit to the kingdom. “I appreciate the emotion toward my husband, because he deserved it. But I think we all, together, we can make the best out of this by using the political pressure, diplomatic pressure to bring his wishes out.”
But after Biden’s clear avoidance of committing to raising Khashoggi’s murder in the meeting, on display Thursday in the Israeli presser, it seems anything but clear whether he’s going to follow through at this point. Will the public find out either way? The New York Post suggests that Biden will be carefully shielded from the press after the MbS meeting:
President Biden won’t hold a press conference when he travels to Saudi Arabia and meets with killer Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the White House said Wednesday — days after Biden insisted in an op-ed that “fundamental freedoms are always on the agenda when I travel abroad.”
“We don’t have a press conference for Saudi [Arabia],” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Air Force One en route to Israel for the first leg of Biden’s trip.
“But what we are trying to do is trying to make sure that you guys hear from the president in Saudi [Arabia], on the bilats [bilateral meetings], on the trip, and make sure that you guys hear directly from him,” Jean-Pierre added in the statement.
Thu, 07/14/2022 – 19:20