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Joe Biden Meets Saudi Crown Prince; Raises Concerns Over Khashoggi Murder

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US President Joe Biden says he raised the topic of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi while meeting with with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Friday.

President Biden is in Saudi Arabia to rebuild tension-fraught relations. He had promised to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” over its abysmal human rights record. Biden made it clear the killing in 2018 was “vitally important to me and the United States”.

Biden also indicated that the countries had arrived at agreements on other pending issues. Biden has been criticised as justifying the Saudi government following the cold-blooded murder of US-based Saudi dissident journalist Khashoggi in October 2018. Khashoggi was lured to the the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on the pretext of providing him papers for his upcoming wedding.

US intelligence agencies have maintained that the murder was committed by Saudi intelligence at the behest of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Mohammed bin Salman has always refuted the allegations, and Saudi judiciary blamed “rogue” Saudi agents.

“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 at a press meet after Friday’s talks between US and the Saudis.

I said very straightforwardly, ‘for an American president to be silent on an issue of human rights is inconsistent with who we are and who I am. I’ll always stand up for our values’.”

Biden said the crown prince claimed he was “not personally responsible” for the death, the Associated Press reported. “I indicated I thought he was,” the president said he replied.

Biden was pictured fist-bumping the crown prince before their meeting. The gesture indicated a visible warming of ties between the two countries.

Saudi Arabia and the United States agreed on Friday to strengthen cooperation in the fields of 5G networks, cybersecurity, space exploration, and public health, Al Arabiya News reported.

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