CIA chief met Saudi Crown Prince MbS to 'mend Riyadh-Washington ties': WSJ

CIA chief met Saudi Crown Prince MbS to 'mend Riyadh-Washington ties': WSJ
CIA chief William Burns headed to Jeddah last month to meet with the Saudi leadership as oil production, Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and the war in Yemen have all weighed on relations between Riyadh and Washington.
2 min read
04 May, 2022
William Burns was sworn in as director of the CIA in March 2021 [CQ-Roll Call via Getty]

The director of the US' Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) met with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and other top Saudi officials last month to mend strained ties between Riyadh and Washington, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

CIA head William Burns met with Saudi Arabia's highest-ranking officials in the coastal city of Jeddah in mid-April, the American daily said, citing a US official.

"It was a good conversation, better tone than prior US government engagements," the official reportedly said, though they fell short of revealing what was discussed in the talks.

The US has had strong relations with Saudi Arabia, with the Gulf kingdom being an important security partner for Washington in the Middle East.

However, ties between the two countries have weakened since Joe Biden became president last year.

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A month after taking office, Biden released a damning US intelligence report that placed blame for the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Riyadh. He has since vowed to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the murder and other human rights abuses.

Biden also vowed last year to end support for the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen - though the US has since sold weaponry to the UAE, a coalition member state.

More recently, relations have especially been tested over Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

In response to the invasion in February, the US had urged other energy-producing nations to up their output to reduce the world's reliance on Russian supplies.

Like other OPEC member states, Saudi Arabia has resisted the pressure, saying it will only make modest increases in output.

Riyadh has also been hesitant to condemn Moscow for invading Ukraine.