US Defense Secretary Still Hopes to Meet Saudi Prince
Last week's US visit to Saudi Arabia was postponed due to "scheduling issues," and now the US Defense Secretary "expresses hope" to meet the Crown Prince.
The Pentagon stated on Monday that it still hopes to meet the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohamad Bin Salman. Although US Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, traveled to the Gulf last week, they did not visit Saudi Arabia as the visit was postponed.
Last week's visit withheld the aim of Austin thanking US allies for their support and aid in the massive US airlift from Afghanistan as the Afghan government failed and the Taliban took over the country in August.
The secretary's visit included Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait. However, according to the spokesman of the Pentagon, John Kirby, the trip “didn’t happen for some scheduling issues that we understood were on the Saudi side."
The postponing comes at a time when Joe Biden made promises during his presidential campaign to hold the Saudi authorities accountable for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The relationship between Bin Salman and Biden gained a cold shoulder.
Nonetheless, Kirby iterated that Austin is “absolutely” hopeful to meet the crown prince. “He is the defense minister for Saudi Arabia and we have a strong defense partnership with Saudi Arabia ... We fully expect that we’ll get a chance to get this rescheduled. It was postponed, it wasn’t canceled forever,” spokesman Kirby said.
Earlier this month, President Joe Biden spoke of the declassification of documents as a "homage" to the families of the victims of 9/11 who have demanded transparency. Public documents which have been disclosed since 9/11, including the 9/11 Commission, expose details about a number of Saudi personalities involved. However, the documents do not disclose whether the Saudi government is directly involved in the event or not.
The Saudi government denies any responsibility or accountability for 9/11. On Wednesday, the Saudi Embassy in Washington released a statement that they are open to any disclosure of documents related to 9/11, saying “no evidence has ever emerged to indicate that the Saudi government or its officials had previous knowledge of the terrorist attack or were in any way involved in its planning or execution.”