US President Biden had publicly pledged during his presidential campaign to make Saudi Arabia a pariah state.
On Thursday, US President Joe Biden defended his decision to meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Biden said that Saudi Arabia should be involved in any effort to bring stability to a volatile region.
The US president stated this during a joint press conference with Israeli caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid on the second day of a 5-day trip to the Middle East.
Human Rights Issue
In response to a question during a press conference, Biden said that his “views on Khashoggi were categorically clear.”
“The reason I’m going to Saudi Arabia is to advance American interests in a way that I think represents an opportunity to reassert our influence in the Middle East,” he added.
He also said, according to the “Washington Post” that “there are a lot of issues at stake, I want to make sure that we can continue to lead in the region and not create a vacuum that may be filled by both Russia and China.”
US intelligence officials had concluded that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had ordered the killing and dismemberment of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at his country’s consulate in Istanbul in 2018.
There was widespread international condemnation over the killing of Khashoggi, including by Biden, who publicly pledged during his presidential campaign to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah nation.”
He had also stated last June that he would not hold any meeting with Mohammed bin Salman.
The White House later confirmed that Biden would indeed however meet the crown prince as part of a bilateral meeting with Saudi King Salman and the country’s broader leadership team.