Al-Jubeir 'didn’t hear’ Biden say MBS responsible for Khashoggi murder
President Joe Biden claims he chastised MBS for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but Saudi officials denied Biden ever made the statement.
The Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir said that US President Joe Biden did not tell Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that he believed the latter was involved in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
"I didn't hear that particular phrase," Adel al-Jubeir told Fox News' Alex Hogan after Biden departed Saudi Arabia.
White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich first published the details of the discussion between Al-Jubeir's with Hogan on social media late Saturday night.
"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," Adel Al-Jubeir told Fox News.
When he returned to the White House, Biden told reporters that Al-Jubeir was not telling the truth. On Friday, Biden stated that he brought up the subject of Khashoggi during his meeting with the Saudi Crown Prince in Jeddah that day, claiming that Mohammed bin Salman was involved in the murder.
"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 about it now," Biden said, adding "He basically said that he was not personally responsible for it.
I told him he was, and he replied he wasn't personally responsible, and he took action against those who were."
A 'pariah state'
Biden told reporters that he did not regret labeling Saudi Arabia a "pariah state" because of its apparent complicity in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
During his 2020 presidential campaign, Biden called Saudi Arabia a "pariah state" for the Crown Prince's alleged complicity in Khashoggi's death.
In 2018, a Saudi hit squad is suspected to have assassinated and dismembered Khashoggi inside the country's consulate in Istanbul.
The Saudi Crown Prince has denied ordering the assassination. After Biden's talks with the Crown Prince on Friday, a senior Saudi source informed Al Arabiya that Mohammed bin Salman addressed US "mistakes" to Biden at the Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq, as well as other cases, such as the shooting of veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.
In response to Khashoggi's murder, the Crown Prince informed Biden that it was "regrettable," but that Saudi Arabia had followed all legal procedures in the case.
According to Prince Mohammed, it is critical that all countries deal with their mistakes and put in place all required processes to prevent similar events in the future.
#JoeBiden has long been championing punishing #SaudiArabia over the assassination of #Saudi journalist #JamalKhashoggi and #Riyadh's grave human rights violations, but it seems that the Kingdom's "pariah" status will have to wait, for the #US needs oil and energy. pic.twitter.com/SMsgIrX81z— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) June 3, 2022
US reporters restricted in Jeddah
On another note, US reporters with pressing questions - in other words, questions that made the Saudi de facto Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman uncomfortable - were met with plenty of censorship.
Sensitive topics were brushed upon; analysts, according to the Wall Street Journal, are saying the Saudis have expressed outrage at some of the questions asked, such as the killing of Washington Post's journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, and whether Biden still considers Saudi Arabia a "pariah" state as it had in his political campaign.
One US reporter asked whether MBS would apologize to Khashoggi's family - after which Saudi officials expressed outrage, in private. Upon being asked this question, MBS forced a smile, though sour, which analysts are saying is an act of defiance. Bin Salman gave a response asserting that Biden came all the way to Jeddah to ask for the Kingdom's forgiveness, especially in light of his previous campaign promises to treat Riyadh like a pariah.