White House to communicate with Saudi King instead of crown prince
February 17, 2021  08:26
US President Joe Biden is working to "recalibrate" the American relationship with Saudi Arabia, White House press secretary Jenn Psaki said, and plans to communicate with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud instead of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

"We've made clear from the beginning that we're going to recalibrate our relationship with Saudi Arabia," Psaki said during a news briefing.

"And part of that is going back to engagement, counterpart to counterpart. The President's counterpart is King Salman, and I expect that, in appropriate time, he would have a conversation with him. I don't have a prediction of the timeline on that."

The approach marks another notable break from former US President Donald Trump, who had been strongly supportive of bin Salman even after US intelligence agencies' concluded that he had personally ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, had written critically about the prince's policies in the kingdom. US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told lawmakers during her confirmation hearing that she would "absolutely" provide Congress an unclassified report on Khashoggi's murder.

Biden had announced earlier this month that the US will end all support for Saudi Arabia's offensive operations in Yemen. The conflict "has created a humanitarian and strategic catastrophe," the President said, even as he made clear the US will "continue to help and support Saudi Arabia."

The administration has also paused arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as it conducts a wider review of agreements worth billions of dollars made by the Trump administration, sources familiar with the matter told CNN.
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