President Biden spoke with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Thursday, their first phone call since Biden’s inauguration.
The conversation took place before the expected release of a U.S. intelligence report on the killing of Saudi journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi. In 2018, Khashoggi was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, with his body dismembered by Saudi agents. It was reported soon after that the CIA concluded with high confidence that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s de facto leader, ordered the murder. The Saudi government and former President Donald Trump pinned the blame on “rogue” agents.
The White House readout of Thursday’s call does not mention Khashoggi, but says Biden “affirmed the importance the United States places on universal human rights and the rule of law” and told King Salman “he would work to make the bilateral relationship as strong and transparent as possible.”