WASGHINTON (Middle East Eye) – U.S. officials quietly welcomed Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defense Minister Khalid bin Salman on Tuesday, months after an intelligence report linked his brother, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The Biden administration did not publicly disclose Prince Khalid’s visit in advance. According to reports, the royal met with senior U.S. officials where they discussed the war in Yemen and military contracts.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the murder of Khashoggi could be a topic of conversation during the prince’s visit, but said she would not discuss the matter further.
A White House statement on Prince Khalid’s meeting with national security adviser Jake Sullivan did not mention Khashoggi’s murder, although it said Sullivan “emphasized the importance of progress in advancing human rights in the Kingdom.”
The prince also met with Colin Kahl, the U.S. defense undersecretary for policy, where the two discussed “efforts to end the war in Yemen,” and other issues, the Pentagon said.
Saudi Arabia and its regional allies, mainly the United Arab Emirates, invaded Yemen in 2015 in an effort to restore former Riyadh-aligned president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power, but left a massive destruction in the impoverished country.
The UN and several human rights groups have said the Saudi blockade on the country has heavily restricted the flow of aid and goods coming into the country, putting millions at risk of famine.
After more than six years of the Saudi-led war, Yemen is frequently described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with 20.7 million people - 66 percent of the population, including 11.3 million children - in need of assistance.