Biden defends planned visit to Saudi Arabia as U.S. judge asks whether crown prince should get immunity

Biden defends planned visit to Saudi Arabia as U.S. judge asks whether crown prince should get immunity

Reuters reports:

President Joe Biden on Saturday defended his decision to travel to Saudi Arabia saying human rights would be on his agenda as he gave a preview of a trip on which he aims to reset ties with the crown prince, who he previously denounced as a pariah.

Biden will hold bilateral talks with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and his leadership team, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on his visit to the Middle East next week.

The Crown Prince Mohammed, Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, was believed to be behind the 2018 murder of Washington Post journalist and political opponent Jamal Khashoggi, according to the U.S. intelligence community.

In a commentary published in the Washington Post late on Saturday, Biden said his aim was to reorient and not rupture relations with a country that has been a U.S. strategic partner for 80 years. [Continue reading…]

The Guardian reports:

A US judge has asked the Biden administration to weigh in on whether Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, should be granted sovereign immunity in a civil case brought against him in the US by Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist who was killed by Saudi agents in 2018.

John Bates, a district court judge, gave the US government until 1 August to declare its interests in the civil case or give the court notice that it has no view on the matter.

The administration’s decision could have a profound effect on the civil case and comes as Joe Biden is facing criticism for abandoning a campaign promise to turn Saudi Arabia into a “pariah”. [Continue reading…]

The Times of Israel reports:

In a message to Saudi Arabia ahead of US President Joe Biden’s expected direct flight from Israel to there this week, Prime Minister Yair Lapid called on Sunday for all countries in the region to build ties with Israel.

“From Jerusalem, the [US] president’s plane will fly to Saudi Arabia, and he will carry with it a message of peace and hope from us,” Lapid said at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting.

“Israel reaches out to all the countries in the region and calls on them to build ties with us, to establish relations with us and to change history for the sake of our children,” he said.

Lapid said that Biden’s visit was set to focus on Iran and, referring to a report Saturday that Iran has begun to use advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium at the underground Fordo facility, called for the international community to immediately impose sanctions on Tehran. [Continue reading…]

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