Biden Plans First Call to Saudi King Ahead of Khashoggi Report
(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden said Wednesday that he’ll soon have his first call with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman as the U.S. works to re-evaluate relations with the world’s largest oil exporter amid tensions over its human rights record.
“I am going to be talking to him,” Biden told reporters at the White House. “I haven’t spoken to him yet.”
The call is expected to come ahead of the release of a U.S. intelligence report that may lay blame for the murder of Saudi Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi on the king’s son and heir to the throne, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Biden said he has read the report. It’s expected to find that the Crown Prince approved the killing of Khashoggi, according to Reuters, which cited officials it didn’t identify.
Prince Mohammed has denied any involvement in the killing, while saying he accepts symbolic responsibility for it as the country’s de facto ruler.
Asked Wednesday about Biden’s past criticism of the Saudi regime, which he has faulted for its record on human rights and its conduct of the war in Yemen, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “I would certainly not say his concerns or his views have changed.”
“He is, of course, now president of the United States,” she said. “Of course, he has the right to take action of any kind as the president of the United States. But there also areas where we will work with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on, including ensuring that they have the protections they need to face the threats that are facing them.”
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