(Washington) Joe Biden said on Wednesday that the U.S. was responsible for the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. He said he had read the intelligence report, which would soon be released to the public, and that the crown was a blast to the prince and to relations between Washington and Riyadh.
“Yes, I read it,” the Democratic president told reporters who questioned him on the matter.
The White House has announced that Joe Biden will speak with the King of Saudi Arabia for the first time “soon” and release an American intelligence report.
When asked about the Axios News site’s article that a phone call with King Salman was scheduled for Wednesday before the report was released on Thursday, White House spokeswoman Jen Saki and a few hours later the president was reluctant to confirm the choice.
The call was “coming soon, we are still in the process of programming the exact moment,” she told reporters Wednesday. Avril Hines, director of national intelligence, said the “declassified report” would be released “soon”, without further details.
The new president of the United States has not yet spoken with Saudi leaders, most close to his predecessor Donald Trump in the Middle East. A special spokesman for Trumpist diplomacy said he would speak to King Salman when the time came, rather than Crown Prince Mohammed Ben Salman, known as “MBS”.
Jen Saki confirmed Joe Biden’s intention to “recalibrate” relations with Riyadh from the previous US government, often accused of blinking an eye on human rights.
“This means he does not remain silent, he speaks loudly and clearly when he is concerned about human rights violations, lack of freedom of the press and expression,” she stressed.
The publication of the Khashoggi Report should be the first test of this “recalibration”.
A Saudi journalist living in the United States, a columnist for the Washington Post, was assassinated by Saudi agents at his country’s consulate in Istanbul in 2018. The U.S. Senate, which discovered the intelligence services of the world’s largest power, at the time ruled that the Crown Prince was “responsible” for the assassination.
According to the CNN channel that contacted the court documents, the two private planes used by the commando who killed the journalist “belonged to the company that the powerful crown prince seized a year ago”.
Donald Trump has never publicly blamed “MBS” for being the cornerstone of his anti-Iran strategy and his alliance with Riyadh, the largest arms buyer in the United States.
“I protected his skin,” he told American journalist Bob Woodward.
Joe Biden himself is in opposition to calling Saudi Arabia a “pariah” state because of the affair and its human rights abuses.
“I ‘m not sure his concerns or his views have changed, but he’s now president of the United States” and “there are also things we’ll be working on with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”, especially regional “threats” to counter, the White House spokesman deserves.
She declined to say what the consequences would be if the soon-to-be-released report established the direct responsibility of “MBS” in the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi.
Presidential National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN International last week that the publication of the document should be accompanied by a “response” from Washington to “consider those responsible for the murder”.