Biden to clarify US stance on Saudi Arabia following Khashoggi report

Biden to clarify US stance on Saudi Arabia following Khashoggi report
No further sanctions are expected despite calls for tougher measures against Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
2 min read
28 February, 2021
Biden faces calls for sanctions on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman [Getty]
President Joe Biden will make an announcement on Monday clarifying his administration's stance on Saudi Arabia after a US intelligence report declassified this week stated Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

The Biden administration has faced domestic criticism since the release of the report on Friday, with some calling for tougher measures such as sanctions on the crown prince.

"There will be an announcement on Monday as to what we are going to be doing with Saudi Arabia generally," President Biden said on Saturday without providing further details.

No significant measures are expected, however, with calls for further sanctions likely to go unheeded.

"The administration took a wide range of new actions on Friday. The president is referring to the fact that on Monday, the State Department will provide more details and elaborate on those announcements, not new announcements," a White House official was quoted as saying by Reuters.

President Biden wants to "recalibrate" but not "rupture" Washington's relations with Riyadh, Secretary of State Antony Blinken explained earlier this week.

Analysts say the US still sees Saudi Arabia as a crucial partner in the region and cannot afford to completely alienate bin Salman, who will likely rule the kingdom for decades to come.

The State Department imposed sanctions on dozens of Saudi officials allegedly involved in the killing of Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who was resident in the US at the time of his death. It also imposed travel bans on some suspects.

In October 2018, the regime critic was lured into the kingdom's Istanbul consulate where he was killed and dismembered by a team of Saudi agents.

The long-anticipated but vague US intelligence report did not determine whether the team set out to kill or capture Khashoggi but did find that bin Salman approved the mission.

Riyadh issued a statement on Friday rejecting the report's findings, repeating previous assertions that a team of rogue agents was behind the Khashoggi murder.

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