Saudi Arabia pushed back on Democrat President Joe Biden’s claim late last week that he confronted Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
Biden’s claim comes after he was photographed fist-bumping MBS during his visit to the Kingdom last week. Biden previously pledged while running for president that he wanted to treat Saudi Arabia like a “pariah” state.
Biden claimed during a press conference on Friday that he “raised” Khashoggi’s murder “at the top of the meeting, making it clear what I thought of it at the time and what I think of it now.”
“And it was exactly — I was straightforward and direct in discussing it,” he continued. “I made my view crystal clear. I said very straightforwardly: For an American President to be silent on an issue of human rights, is this consistent with — inconsistent with who we are and who I am? I’ll always stand up for our values.”
Biden later claimed that he told MBS that he “thought” MBS was responsible for the murder and that MBS denied those allegations and that MBS indicated all parties that were involved in the murder were brought to justice.
Adel Al-Jubeir, the Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, who was in the meeting with Biden and MBS told U.S. journalists that he “didn’t hear” Biden make those remarks to MBS.
I asked @AdelAljubeir, who was in the meeting with MBS, whether @POTUS' characterization of how he accused MBS of being responsible for Khashoggi's murder was accurate. @AdelAljubeir told me, "I didn't hear that exchange, that particular exchange…
— Nick Schifrin (@nickschifrin) July 15, 2022
MBS reportedly scolded Biden to his face about actions that he claims that the U.S. was responsible for that were similar to Khashoggi’s death.
“These are issues, mistakes that happen in any country, including the U.S.,” Prince Faisal bin Farhan, the Saudi foreign minister, told CNN. “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 responded to the claims out of Saudi Arabia by claiming that they were lying. When pressed on the matter, Biden got snippy with reporters.
“Why don’t you guys talk about something that matters?” Biden asked. “I’m happy to answer a question that matters.”
President Biden, returning to WH, says Saudi FM not telling truth
Biden then chided reporter for asking about MBS fist bump, telling press to 'talk about something that matters'
— Steven Nelson (@stevennelson10) July 17, 2022