Jul 15, 2022 - World

Biden says he raised Khashoggi's murder with Saudi crown prince

President Biden said from Jeddah on Friday that he raised the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the top of his meeting with Saudi Crown Prime Mohammed bin Salman.

Why it matters: U.S. intelligence concluded MBS was responsible for Khashoggi's murder — an allegation Saudi officials deny.

  • Biden once vowed to make the Gulf kingdom a "pariah," and U.S.-Saudi relations have been strained over a number of issues, including the murder of Khashoggi.

What they're saying: "I was straightforward and direct in discussing" Khashoggi's murder, Biden said.

  • "I said very straightforwardly: 'For an American president to be silent on the issue of human rights is inconsistent who we are and who I am,'" Biden said.
  • "I made my view crystal clear...I'll always stand up for our values," he added.

Asked how MBS responded, Biden told reporters: "He basically said that he was not personally responsible for it. I indicated I thought he was."

  • Biden added that MBS said "he took action against those who were responsible."
  • Biden also said he has no regrets about calling Saudi Arabia a "pariah."
  • "What happened to Khashoggi was outrageous," he told reporters.

Biden is facing outrage from Democrats and others over the first bump he gave MBS on Friday.

  • Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi's fiancé, tweeted a photo of the first bump, saying that if Khashoggi had witnessed the interaction, he would have said: "Is this the accountability you promised for my murder? The blood of MBS' next victim is on your hands."
  • Asked to respond to Cengiz's tweet, Biden said he was "sorry she feels that way. I was straightforward back then. I was straightforward today."
  • He added that he "didn't come here to meet with the crown prince. I came here to meet with the GCC and nine nations to deal with the security and the needs of the free world, in particular the United States."

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details throughout.

Go deeper