Despites hopes that a meeting with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince could lead to a major oil production deal, President Joe Biden is leaving the Middle Eastern country without securing any significant commitment.
After speaking with Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Friday, Biden attempted to spin his meeting with the Saudi rulers as an important first step that would lead to results in the near future.
“I’m doing all I can to increase the supply for the United States of America, which I expect to happen,” Biden said. “The Saudis share that urgency and based on our discussions today, I expect we’ll see further steps in the coming weeks.”
The White House, meanwhile, joined the president in trying to frame the meeting as a success, releasing a fact sheet which celebrated an OPEC+ cartel commitment to increase oil production levels 50% above what was previously planned for July and August. The commitment, however, was made last month — weeks before Biden’s meeting — and OPEC+ member nations have struggled to meet their promised quota since then.
The president also told reporters that he brought up the issue of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death during his meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed.
“I said, very straightforwardly, for an American president to be silent on an issue of human rights is inconsistent with who we are and who I am,” Biden said. “I’ll always stand up for our values.”
Crown Prince Mohammed, who US officials believe ordered the murder of Khashoggi, reportedly denied being involved in the journalist’s death. Saudi officials confirmed that Biden had touched on the issue during the meeting, calling the situation a “painful episode.”
“The president raised the issue … And the crown prince responded that this was a painful episode for Saudi Arabia and that it was a terrible mistake,” said Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir.
Biden’s decision to meet with the Saudi ruler despite his assumed connection to Khashoggi’s murder was roundly condemned by critics who felt the president was compromising his commitment to human rights. Khashoggi’s widow also criticized Biden, saying the president would have blood on his hands for paying respect to the crown prince.