President Biden defended his decision to meet with the Saudi crown prince who orchestrated the killing and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying the Saudis must be involved in any effort to stabilize a volatile region.
Biden made the statement during a news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid on the second day of a five-day trip to the Middle East.
“My views on Khashoggi have been absolutely, positively clear and I have never been quiet about talking about human rights,” he said in response to a question. “The reason I’m going to Saudi Arabia is to promote U.S. interests in a way that I think we have an opportunity to reassert our influence in the Middle East.”
When I see the Saudi leadership tomorrow, I’ll be carrying a direct message,” Biden said. “A message of peace and of the extraordinary opportunities a more stable integrated region could bring to the region and, quite frankly, to the rest of the world.”
Still, his decision to share space with MBS has been a lightning rod. Khashoggi’s fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, condemned Biden’s visit.