Biden team downgrades Saudi crown prince to ‘recalibrate’ ties

By | February 16, 2021

Bloomberg reports:

President Joe Biden intends to “recalibrate” the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia while emphasizing outreach to King Salman, in a move that signals a downgrade in ties with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the country’s de facto ruler.

“We’re going to recalibrate our relationship with Saudi Arabia,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday. “Part of that is going back to engagement counterpart-to-counterpart. The president’s counterpart is King Salman.”

Instead of engaging primarily with Biden, the crown prince’s most appropriate U.S. counterpart is Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, according to a person familiar. While Prince Salman’s official role is deputy prime minister and defense minister, he has a vast range of responsibilities as heir to the throne his father, 85, has held since 2015.

The U.S. statement is the latest sign of how the Biden administration is reassessing the close ties established between Washington and Riyadh during the Trump administration. Former President Donald Trump made Saudi Arabia the centerpiece of his strategy toward the Middle East, and in a break with precedent took his first trip abroad as president to Riyadh. [Continue reading…]

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