Biden: Human rights on agenda during Middle East trip
Why it matters: Biden has faced criticism from some quarters over his planned trip to Saudi Arabia, where he expects to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
- U.S. intelligence concluded MBS was responsible for the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi — an allegation Saudi officials reject.
- Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said last month that he believed Biden shouldn't meet with MBS. "I wouldn't go. I wouldn't shake his hand," he said.
The big picture: Biden acknowledged the controversy in his op-ed, writing he knows "there are many who disagree with my decision to travel to Saudi Arabia."
- "My views on human rights are clear and long-standing, and fundamental freedoms are always on the agenda when I travel abroad, as they will be during this trip, just as they will be in Israel and the West Bank," he added.
- In the op-ed, Biden framed his trip to Saudi Arabia as a necessary step in positioning the U.S. to counter Russian aggression, succeed in competition with China, and achieve greater stability in the Middle East.
- Biden wrote that his administration has "reversed the blank-check policy we inherited" from the Trump administration, noting the sanctions and visa bans issued against Saudi officials during his time in office.
What they're saying: "From the start, my aim was to reorient — but not rupture — relations with a country that’s been a strategic partner for 80 years," Biden wrote of Saudi Arabia.
- "When I meet with Saudi leaders on Friday, my aim will be to strengthen a strategic partnership going forward that’s based on mutual interests and responsibilities, while also holding true to fundamental American values," he added.