Jul 14, 2022 - World

Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancée says Biden visit to Saudi Arabia is "heartbreaking"

Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of murdered Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi, answers journalists' questions outside the courthouse.
Hatice Cengiz answers journalists' questions outside the courthouse in Istanbul on April 7. Photo: Ozan Kose/AFP via Getty Images

Hatice Cengiz, the fiancée of murdered Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, called President Biden's planned visit to Saudi Arabia "heartbreaking" and "disappointing."

Driving the news: Biden, who once vowed to make Saudi Arabia a "pariah," is set to meet with the crown prince on Friday, a move that Cengiz described as "a huge backing down" in an AP interview.

  • "It’s heartbreaking and disappointing. And Biden will lose his moral authority by putting oil and expediency over principles and values," Cengiz said.
  • Cengiz also said that Biden should urge Saudi Arabia, which she said is a "terrible ally," to embrace a human rights agenda, per the AP interview.

The big picture: Biden's visit to Saudi Arabia is set to include a bilateral meeting, focused on repairing relations, the U.S. need for an increase in Saudi oil production and on normalization steps between Saudi Arabia and Israel, Axios' Barak Ravid reports.

  • Biden earlier this month tried to downplay the bilateral meeting after receiving criticism from some Democrats in Congress.
  • U.S. intelligence released an unclassified report last year assessing that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) approved the operation to "capture or kill" Khashoggi in 2018.

What she's saying: "One of Biden’s promises [was] being different. It was a very big hope to me to believe, again, that Biden will do something for me and for Jamal," Cengiz said.

  • "Instead of being different now, he’s doing the same and embracing dictators in the region right now. So it’s very disappointing for me."

What to watch: Biden on Thursday did not say whether he would mention Khashoggi’s murder when he meets with the prince, AP reports.

  • "I always bring up human rights," Biden said during a news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, per AP.
  • "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."
  • Biden said he hopes his trip will "reassert" U.S. influence in the Middle East.

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