US President Biden says there will be many who criticise his decision to travel to the kingdom but human rights and fundamental freedoms are always on his agenda.
US President Joe Biden has said he aims to “strengthen a strategic partnership” with Saudi Arabia during a controversial visit there next week, but added he will hold true to “fundamental American values.”
"I know that there are many who disagree with my decision to travel to Saudi Arabia. My views on human rights are clear and long-standing, and fundamental freedoms are always on the agenda when I travel abroad, as they will be during this trip," Biden wrote in a Washington Post opinion piece published on Saturday.
While Biden is expected to press for increased Saudi oil production in the hope of taming spiraling fuel costs and inflation at home, his visit signals a shift: an apparent move toward mending relations after the Jamal Khashoggi incident in a Saudi consulate in Türkiye.
As a presidential candidate, Biden said the 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi had made the country a "pariah."
US intelligence findings released by the Biden administration identified bin Salman, often referred to as MBS, as mastermind of the operation. The Crown Prince denies the involvement but he says he feels responsible because it "happened under my watch."
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Biden will be meeting MBS
Last month Biden himself had sought to distance himself from the upcoming encounter, stressing to reporters he was going to meet with King Salman and his team.
But the White House confirmed earlier this week that he will meet MBS as part of that larger delegation during the trip.
"As president, it is my job to keep our country strong and secure," the US leader wrote on Saturday in the Washington Post.
"To do these things, we have to engage directly with countries that can impact those outcomes. Saudi Arabia is one of them, and when I meet with Saudi leaders on Friday, my aim will be to strengthen a strategic partnership going forward that's based on mutual interests and responsibilities, while also holding true to fundamental American values."
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