U.S. President Joe Biden met separately with both King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) in Saudi Arabia on Friday.
Following his meetings, Biden told the press he discussed with the Saudi leaders “human rights issues, including Khashoggi’s death.”
The crown prince reportedly told the president that he is “not personally responsible” for the journalist’s killing.
“I raised it at the top of the meeting, making it clear what I thought of it at the time and what I thought of it now,” Biden told reporters. “I made my view crystal clear. I said very straightforwardly: For an American president to remain silent on an issue of human rights would be inconsistent with who we are and who I am. I will always stand up for our values.”
“He basically said that he was not personally responsible for it,” Biden said of MBS. “I indicated that he was, and he said he was not personally responsible for it, and he took action against those who were responsible.”
Earlier in the day, Biden faced domestic criticism when he appeared fist-bumping with the crown prince as he was greeted at the Al Salam Royal Palace in Jeddah. The president laughed when asked about that moment by a reporter.
Following bilateral meetings with the king, crown prince and various ministers, the White House announced that the Saudis had committed to increasing oil production in July and August.
“Saudi Arabia has committed to support global oil market balancing for sustained economic growth,” the White House said in a statement. “We have welcomed the increase in production levels 50% above what was planned for July and August.”
For weeks, the White House downplayed the focus on oil production and energy commitments in Biden’s conversations with Saudi officials.