Biden supports meeting with Saudi prince, speaks as part of broader meeting

Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a session of the Shura Council in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on November 20, 2019. Bandar Alkalwood / Courtesy of the Saudi State Court / Guide via REUTERS / File Photo

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WASHINGTON, June 17 (Reuters) – US President Joe Biden said on Friday he had not traveled publicly to Saudi Arabia to meet with real leader Mohammed bin Salman during a visit next month. “International Meeting.”

Biden’s plans to see the Crown Prince, known as MBS, are part of his first trip to the Gulf region as president. He has been criticized by US lawmakers, including some from his own Democrats and human rights lawyers, who say the visit runs counter to his promise to place human rights at the center of US foreign policy. read more

“I’m not going to meet MBS. I’m going to an international meeting and he’s going to be a part of it,” Biden told reporters Friday when asked how he would handle the topic during his trip to Saudi Arabia. In 2018, Jamal Kashoghi, a Saudi journalist living in the United States and criticizing the Crown Prince, was assassinated.

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A spokesman for the National Security Council said the president was traveling to Saudi Arabia at the invitation of King Salman with eight additional heads of state for the GCC + 3 summit.

Biden and US officials will also hold bilateral meetings with King Salman and his entourage, including the Crown Prince.

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As a presidential candidate, Biden said he wanted to make Saudi Arabia “Baria.” However, his struggle to reduce unprecedented high petrol prices this year has been exacerbated by US pressure from oil-producing countries to increase production to offset Russian losses following Western sanctions on Moscow and Ukraine.

A few weeks after taking office, Biden changed US policy on Saudi Arabia, taking a tougher stance on the state’s human rights record and especially on the assassination of Washington Post journalist Kashogi in Turkey in 2018. The US intelligence chief has been implicated in the assassination of the prince. The Saudi government has denied any involvement.

The White House said earlier this month that Biden’s vision had not changed.

Washington’s desire to improve relations with the Gulf monarchies seeks to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russia for power following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Western diplomats have previously told Reuters that the United States is urging Gulf states to publicly condemn Moscow. The Gulf states have tried to maintain a neutral position.

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Report by Andrea Shalal and Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing Grand McCauley

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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