Thu. Apr 18th, 2024

President Biden’s CIA director reportedly had an unannounced meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last month.

The Wall Street Journal reported that William Burns held the confab in mid-April in the Saudi Arabia port city Jeddah.

The CIA declined to comment on the report. The Hill has reached out to the Saudi Arabian Embassy for comment.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the details of what the men discussed were unknown, but tension has been building over oil production, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Iran nuclear deal and the war in Yemen.

“It was a good conversation, better tone than prior U.S. government engagements,” one unnamed American official told the Journal of the meeting.

Crown Prince Mohammed, 36, runs Saudi Arabia’s day-to-day activities for his father, King Salman, 86.

Biden notably took aim at the Saudi kingdom in his 2019 presidential campaign, hammering the country over human rights issues and the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“We were going to, in fact, make them pay the price, and make them, in fact, the pariah that they are,” he said during a Democratic presidential debate.

Biden later released a secret U.S. intelligence assessment that said Crown Prince Mohammed approved Khashoggi’s killing and dismemberment inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. More than two dozen Saudis have been sought by Turkish officials over the killing.

Crown Prince Mohammed has denied involvement in Khashoggi’s death and has asked the U.S. to not discuss the death further with him.

As the U.S. moved to ban Russian oil following its invasion of Ukraine, the Biden administration was reportedly looking to Saudi Arabia to help offset those imports. However, tensions between the countries have complicated the U.S. push.
The Wall Street Journal reported that several U.S. officials have visited the kingdom in the past year to try to mend relations and address Saudi concerns about security threats from Iran and Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.


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