Biden says HR “will always be on the agenda” during visit to Saudi Arabia

President cites strategic motives in talks with Saudi officials over threat from Russia, China

The President of the United States, Joe Biden, has invoked “strategic” reasons to justify his visit next week to Saudi Arabia, and assured that he will meet with the authorities of the kingdom with Human Rights in mind after the crisis opened by the murder of the journalist Yamal Khashogi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, for which US intelligence agencies blamed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“I know there are many who disagree with my decision to travel to Saudi Arabia. My views on Human Rights are clear and long known, and fundamental freedoms are always on the agenda,” Biden has assured in a column for the ‘Washington Post’.

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The president has explained that the goal of his trip “will be to strengthen a strategic partnership in the future that is based on mutual interests and responsibilities, while remaining true to America’s core values” with a country that has been “a partner for 80 years” and with which he sought to “reorient, but not break” relations after Khashogi’s assassination in 2018, two years before his arrival in power.

In this regard, Biden has assured that the “blank check” policy that his predecessor, Donald Trump, granted to the Saudi authorities “has been reversed”, and recalled that, in addition to publishing the Intelligence report that pointed to Bin Salman, he issued sanctions against the Saudi Rapid Intervention Force, also implicated in the murder of the reporter.

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However, Biden also recalled that his job is to make the United States “a stronger and safer country” and he has to “counter Russian aggression, outmaneuver China and work for greater stability in an important region of the world.”

“To do that, we have to engage directly with countries that can impact those outcomes. Saudi Arabia is one of them,” he wielded about the most prominent stop on a tour of the Middle East, “a place now more stable and secure than the one he inherited” from his administration 18 months ago, which will kick off Wednesday and also take him to Israel and the West Bank.

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