American President Biden, in a telephone conversation with Saudi King Salman, said that he wants to work towards links between the countries that are “as strong and transparent as possible”. Thats what the White House reports.
The telephone conversation between the two leaders was pending an American report on the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. It was murdered in 2018 at the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul.
The secret report of the United States Intelligence Agency describes the involvement of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He would have ordered the murder. The report is expected any moment, writing American media.
Whether President Biden and King Salman have spoken about the report is not clear. Both the White House and Saudi media make no mention of it. Biden did say yesterday that he read the report.
The report, and the painful conclusion for the Saudi royal family, is seen as a test of fire for the future relationship between the two allies. The two countries have been working together for decades against Irans influence in the Middle East. “The two leaders confirmed the historical importance of the relationship between the countries,” writes the White House.
Biden said he wants to maintain strong ties with one of the most important Arab allies of the United States. “Our focus is on re-calibrating the relationship,” said a spokesman. “Of course there are issues we are concerned about and we keep the various options open to accountability,” she referred to the importance of human rights in Saudi Arabia.
The American President said afterwards that the conversation had gone “well”. Saudi Arabia also looked back on the phone call in a positive way. Media from that country report that King congratulated Biden on his presidency. Salman also underlined the importance of a strong relationship.
Body Khashoggi never found
Khashoggi lived in the US and worked as a columnist for the Washington Post. His critical columns included the Saudi Crown Prince. He was lured to the consulate in Istanbul in 2018 and murdered there. His body cut into pieces was never found.
Five suspects were sentenced to the death penalty in 2019. This sentence was later converted to 20 years in prison after the journalists survivors had forgiven the five. Three others were given 24 years in prison.
Mohammed bin Salman denied in 2019 that he was behind the murder. However, he took responsibility for the murder, because it was committed by people working in the Saudi government.
As Crown Prince, MBS has a great influence on the policy of his father, the king. Besides, he could succeed 85-year-old Salman at any time. That means the matter is a precarious matter for the White House.