US Senator Bernie Sanders slams Joe Biden's Saudi Arabia trip over human rights abuses
US Senator Bernie Sanders criticised President Joe Biden for travelling to Saudi Arabia as part of a regional trip that included Israel and the occupied West Bank in a television interview on Sunday with the ABC network.
Sanders, a former Democrat presidential bid nominee, condemned Biden for "rewarding" Saudi Arabia with a visit in light of the murder of critic and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, as well as the kingdom's poor human rights record. He said that the president should not have visited the kingdom.
"You have the leader of that country, who’s involved in the murder of a Washington Post journalist, I don’t think that that type of government should be rewarded with a visit by the president of the United States," he told anchor Martha Raddatz in Sunday’s episode of 'This Week'.
"Look, you got a family that is worth $100 billion, which questions democracy, which treats women as third-class citizens, which murderers and imprisons its opponents," he added, in reference to the Saudi royal family.
Sanders further said that he doesn't "believe" that the US should be maintaining a warm relationship "with a dictatorship like [Saudi Arabia]", which Biden once vowed to "make a pariah" over its track record on human rights.
Biden’s trip served to discuss sky-rocketing oil and gas prices amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, ramping up oil production in a bilateral summit with other Arab states in Jeddah, as well as "asserting" Washington’s influence in the Middle East.
Sanders, however, acknowledged that the oil crisis was Biden's likely reason to go ahead with the visit, but maintained that there are other ways of solving the global oil crisis.
Rights groups had expressed grave concern regarding Biden's trip to the Gulf kingdom, as well as from Khashoggi's fiancée Hatice Cengiz, who expressed her "heartbreak" over the president's choice to visit Riyadh, where he greeted de facto leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with a fist bump.
Cengiz had urged the US president to seek more answers from authorities over the whereabouts of Khashoggi's remains.
US intelligence concluded that bin Salman did indeed order Khashoggi's killing, though the crown prince continues to maintain that he had no role in the murder that sent shockwaves around the world.