Biden and Mohammed bin Salman exchange words over Saudi Arabia’s alleged killing of Jamal Khashoggi

President Joe Biden is trying to project an image of strength, following his meet-up with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), by insisting on a “full and transparent accounting” of Saudi Arabia’s alleged killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. 

Biden has faced much criticism for agreeing to meet up with MBS. The central point of the meeting was to ask Saudi Arabia to increase its oil production in order to help with the ongoing energy crisis.

Part of this criticism stems from the fact that Biden, as a presidential candidate, promised – if elected president – to treat Saudi Arabia as a “pariah” state over its alleged human rights abuses, including the killing of Khashoggi. Biden made things worse for himself by greeting MBS with a fist bump.

Now, Biden appears to be trying to save face.

“I raised it”

Following the meetup, Biden made it a point to tell reporters that he confronted MBS about the murder of Khashoggi “at the top” of the meeting.

“With respect to the murder of Khashoggi, I raised it at the top of the meeting, making it clear what I thought of it at the time and what I think of it now,” Biden said. “I was straightforward and direct in discussing it. I made my view crystal clear.”

Biden also said that he “made it clear if anything occurs like that again, they’d get that response and much more.”

Saudi Arabia, though, offered its own take on the Khashoggi confrontation.

MBS’s response

According to Prince Faisal bin Farhan, the Saudi foreign minister, after Biden confronted MBS about the killing of Khashoggi, MBS responded by pointing to the abuse of prisoners by U.S. military personnel at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison as well as to the killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

“The Crown Prince responded to President Biden’s remarks on … Khashoggi after quite clearly — that this crime, while very unfortunate and abhorrent, is something that the kingdom took very seriously (and) acted upon in a way commiserate with its position as a responsible country,” bin Farhan said.

He added, “these are issues, mistakes that happen in any country, including the US. The Crown Prince pointed out that the US has made its own mistakes and has taken the necessary action to hold those responsible accountable and address these mistakes just as the kingdom has.”

Biden, nonetheless, continues to insist on a “full and transparent accounting” of Khashoggi’s death.

Latest News