Jean-Pierre calls Khashoggi’s fiancée blasting Biden ahead of Saudi Arabia trip ‘devastating’

President Joe Biden’s planned trip to Saudi Arabia where he will likely meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is already being criticized by those both in and outside the U.S.

This week, Biden’s meeting with the country’s leader has been called out by Hatice Cengiz, fiancée of the late Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi who was murdered in 2018 in Turkey while in the Saudi embassy.

U.S. intelligence services pointed to the Saudi crown prince for ordering the assassination of the dissident journalist who had been living in Virginia, and Biden’s 2020 campaign rhetoric referred to the Saudi leader as a “pariah.” Now the president’s first visit to the Middle East coming up in July could bring him face to face with Crown Prince Mohammed.

Cengiz had strong words for Biden in a message that White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre referred to as “devastating.”

“Mr. Biden, you’ll soon visit Saudi Arabia as president, where you’ll meet with Jamal’s heartless executer (sic), dishonoring yourself and Jamal by meeting MBS,” she said in the video message, referring to the Saudi prince.

“If you have to put oil over the principles, and expediency over values,” she says, “can you at least ask, ‘Where is Jamal’s body? Doesn’t he deserve a proper burial? And what happened to his killers?” she asked.

Her words were quoted by a reporter at Wednesday’s White House press briefing when asking Jean-Pierre about Biden’s trip and whether he would “ask the crown prince these questions.”

Cengiz praised the question and shared a video clip from the briefing.

“First I want to say just hearing that is devastating, right? It is Jamal Khashoggi’s widow and so clearly our hearts go out to her and the pain that she’s currently going through,” the press secretary said.

“When it comes to human rights, that’s not something, the president is a straight shooter. This is not something he’s afraid to talk about. He has those conversations, leader-to-leader conversations on a regular basis,” she continued.

“I cannot read out right now or lay out what the agenda is going to be or what the conversations are going to be,” Jean-Pierre said of Biden’s Saudi trip. “But I can assure you, I can assure you, that when it comes to human rights this is something that is a priority for this president.”

According to the White House, the president plans to discuss “a range of bilateral, regional, and global issues,” in Saudi Arabia. He will reportedly also address the Saudi truce with Yemen, and the “deterring threats from Iran.”


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