Biden says Gulf Summit, not MBS, reason for Saudi trip
US President Joe Biden says he is visiting Saudi Arabia to attend an international conference, not to meet Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).
The White House announced earlier this week that Biden will meet with the Saudi crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) and King Salman's leadership team during the Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Jeddah next month.
The President has been chastised for preparing a meeting with the Crown Prince, the man behind the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi.
Biden told journalists at the White House that "I'm not going to meet with MBS. I'm going to an international meeting and he's going to be part of it."
According to one White House journalist, the comment was read as Biden suggesting he was not coming just for the purpose of meeting the Crown Prince, rather than him ruling out a meeting while there.
Read more: US lawmakers: Biden's trip to Saudi Arabia "really bad idea"
Biden said on Sunday that his expected visit to Saudi Arabia will also address "Israel's" security issues.
Biden's trip to the once 'pariah' Kingdom is scheduled for July 15-16, and the President dismissed claims that his visit to Saudi Arabia will have to do with the Kingdom's oil exports, stressing that it is part of a larger meeting that will take place in Saudi Arabia. "That’s the reason I’m going. And it has to do with national security for them — for Israelis," Biden told reporters.
According to the official, Biden will attend the Gulf Cooperation Council plus three meeting in Saudi Arabia alongside his counterparts from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Qatar, as well as Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt.
During his 2020 presidential campaign, Biden called Saudi Arabia a "pariah state" for its many human rights abuses.
See this: Saudi Arabia is no longer a "pariah” for the US
Biden has delayed his visit to West Asia a number of times so far, with Politico claiming that Biden "angrily rejected" the possibility of meeting with Mohammad bin Salman, the Saudi Crown Prince, before giving in later on.
Read more: White House says Biden's 'pariah' remarks of Saudi Arabia still stand