Saudi prince told Biden that U.S. has made mistakes too, Saudi official says

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and US President Joe Biden meet at Al Salman Palace upon his arrival in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, July 15, 2022. — Reuters pic

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and US President Joe Biden meet at Al Salman Palace upon his arrival in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, July 15, 2022. — Reuters pic

Saturday, 16 Jul 2022 7:50 PM MYT

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia, July 16 — Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told President Joe Biden that Saudi Arabia had acted to prevent a repeat of mistakes like the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and that the United States had also made mistakes, including in Iraq, a Saudi official said.

Biden said on Friday he told Prince Mohammed he held him responsible for the murder of the Washington Post journalist Khashoggi, shortly after exchanging a fist bump with the kingdom’s de facto ruler.

“The kingdom has taken all measures to prevent similar mistakes in the future,” the crown prince was quoted as telling Biden.

The crown prince has denied responsibility for the Khashoggi killing.

The Saudi official, in a statement sent to Reuters about Friday’s conversation between the two leaders, said the crown prince said that trying to impose certain values by force on other countries could backfire.

Biden, who landed in Saudi Arabia on Friday in his first Middle East trip as president, holds a summit on Saturday with six Gulf states and Egypt, Jordan and Iraq while downplaying his meeting with Prince Mohammed. That encounter has drawn criticism at home over human rights abuses.

Biden had promised to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” on the global stage over the 2018 murder of Khashoggi, but ultimately decided US interests dictated improving relations with the world’s top oil exporter and Arab powerhouse.

“In the same year, similar regrettable incidents took place and other journalists were killed in other parts around the world,” the crown prince said. “The United States also made a number of mistakes like the incident of Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and others.”

Prince Mohammed, known as MbS, also raised the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during an Israeli raid in the West Bank.

All countries around the world, especially the United States and the kingdom, share values that they agree on and have others that they disagree on, the statement quoted MbS as saying.

“However trying to impose those values by force could have the opposite effect as it happened in Iraq and Afghanistan where the US was unsuccessful,” the statement said.

Washington has softened its stance on Saudi Arabia since Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year, triggering one of the world’s worst energy supply crises.

Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir told reporters the two countries have moved on. — Reuters