President Biden told reporters on Sunday that one of Saudi Arabia’s top diplomats did not give a truthful account of his meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Kingdom’s de facto leader.
Biden met with MbS in Saudi Arabia on Friday and told reporters afterward that he raised the issue of Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist who was killed by Saudi agents at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul in 2018. US intelligence later concluded that MbS ordered the killing.
Biden said he confronted MbS about the killing and made clear that he views the crown prince as personally responsible. But Adel al-Jubeir, a top Saudi diplomat who attended the meeting, said he didn’t “hear” Biden directly blame MbS. “I didn’t hear that particular phrase,” al-Jubeir told Fox News.
“The president mentioned that the US is committed to human rights because since the founding fathers wrote the constitution and he also made the point that American presidents — this is part of the agenda of every American president,” al-Jubeir added.
Arriving back in Washington, Biden was asked by reporters if al-Jubeir’s account was truthful, to which he simply replied, “No.”
The Saudi government maintains that MbS was not behind Khashoggi’s killing and described the incident as a “terrible mistake.” In the meeting with Biden, MbS said the US has also made “mistakes” and brought up the torture and sexual abuse at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison that was carried out by US military personnel.
MbS also raised the issue of the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was gunned down by Israeli forces in May. The US has acknowledged that Israeli forces likely killed Abu Akleh but downplayed the idea it was intentional even though eyewitness accounts and multiple investigations concluded it was a targeted killing.
Biden was in Israel before visiting Saudi Arabia and called for an investigation into Abu Akleh’s killing but didn’t confront Israeli leadership about it or condemn the incident.