Biden won't say if he'll bring up Khashoggi's murder when he meets with Saudis

'My position on Khashoggi has been so clear,' the president said.

July 14, 2022, 10:41 AM

President Joe Biden on Thursday would not say whether he would bring up the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi when he meets with Saudi leaders the next day.

"I always bring up human rights," Biden said, when asked by a reporter in Jerusalem what he would say about Khashoggi's killing to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom U.S. intelligence determined approved the operation that led to the Washington Post columnist's death.

"But my position on Khashoggi has been so clear," he continued. "If anyone doesn't understand it, in Saudi Arabia or anywhere else, then they haven't been around for a while."

PHOTO: Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks during a press conference in Manama, Bahrain, Dec. 15, 2014.
Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks during a press conference in Manama, Bahrain, Dec. 15, 2014.
Hasan Jamali/AP, FILE

Biden said his "views on Khashoggi" have "been absolutely, positively clear."

The president was speaking during a news conference in Jerusalem alongside Israel's prime minister.

As a presidential candidate, Biden had vowed to make Saudi Arabia a "pariah" state over the 2018 murder of Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident who was based in the United States.

U.S. intelligence agencies later assessed that Prince Mohammed, who is also known as "MBS" and who effectively runs the Gulf nation, had approved the operation that left Khashoggi dead.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid at Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Jerusalem, Israel July 14, 2022.
President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid at Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Jerusalem, Israel July 14, 2022.
Atef Safadi/Pool via REUTERS

But with rising inflation and high gas prices weighing on Americans -- and a slew of geopolitical concerns at play -- the president decided to travel to Saudi Arabia and meet with Saudi leaders, including King Salman and the crown prince.

Biden said Thursday that he was traveling to the kingdom to more broadly promote U.S. interests and "reassert" the U.S. role in the Middle East -- noting he was planning to meet with a number of other heads of state while in the country for a regional summit.

While Biden would not commit to bringing up Khashoggi's case with the crown prince, the late dissident's widow said in an interview she had been assured by the White House Biden would do so.

Hanan Elatr Khashoggi met on Tuesday with a White House official in Washington, and on Wednesday, she said in an interview with Spectrum News that the official had assured her that Biden would mention her late husband's name to the crown prince.

ABC News' Chris Donovan contributed to this report.

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