Biden Says Saudi Announcement to Come Monday; Official Says No New Steps Expected

By Reuters
February 28, 2021Politics
Biden Says Saudi Announcement to Come Monday; Official Says No New Steps Expected
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks after the House of Representatives passed his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, U.S. on Feb. 27, 2021. (Joshua Roberts/REUTERS)

WASHINGTON—President Joe Biden on Saturday said his administration would make an announcement on Saudi Arabia on Monday, following the release of a report by the Director of National Intelligence which outlines the assessment of U.S. intelligence on the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The Biden administration has faced criticism in a Washington Post editorial and from others for not being tougher on Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, who intelligence assessed (pdf) must have authorized the murder carried out by Saudi officials.

The Saudi government, which has denied any involvement by the crown prince, on Friday issued a statement rejecting the U.S. report’s findings and repeating its previous statements that Khashoggi’s killing was a heinous crime by a rogue group.

Asked about punishing Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (also known as MbS)—Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler who was appointed in 2017 and led an anti-corruption committee that saw 11 princes and 38 other top figures in the kingdom arrested—Biden said: “There will be an announcement on Monday as to what we are going to be doing with Saudi Arabia generally.”

Biden did not provide details. A White House official has suggested no new significant steps are expected.

“The administration took a wide range of new actions on Friday. The president is referring to the fact that on Monday, the State Department will provide more details and elaborate on those announcements, not new announcements,” the official said.

Khashoggi, a U.S. resident who wrote opinion columns for the Washington Post critical of MbS policies, was killed and dismembered by a team of operatives linked to the prince in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.

NTD Photo
Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks during a press conference in Manama, Bahrain, on Dec. 15, 2014. (Hasan Jamali/AP)

Among the punitive steps the United States took on Friday was the imposition of a visa ban on some Saudis believed involved in the Khashoggi killing and sanctions on others, including a former deputy intelligence chief, which would freeze their U.S. assets and generally bar Americans from dealing with them.

By Steve Holland. NTD contributed to this report.