The publisher and CEO of the Washington Post says it was “shameful” that President Joe Biden fist-bumped Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Friday.
Fred Ryan says in a statement that the informal greeting with the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia “was worse than a handshake.”
U.S. intelligence agencies have said they believe the crown prince, known familiarly by his initials, MBS, gave the order that resulted in the brutal killing and dismemberment of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was a columnist for the paper.
Ryan added that the fist bump “projected a level of intimacy and comfort that delivers to MBS the unwarranted redemption he has been desperately seeking.”
Biden, as a presidential candidate, had promised to make the kingdom a “pariah” in response to the killing, but he moved to rebuild ties as global energy prices soared in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Biden planned to deliver remarks Friday evening in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, after spending three hours at a royal palace meeting with King Salman, MBS and other Saudi officials.
The White House didn’t immediately preview Biden’s speech.
The speech will be Biden’s first public statements since arriving in Saudi Arabia from Israel earlier on Friday. They come after the kingdom lifted its restrictions on overflights into or from Israel in a sign the two countries are inching toward normalizing relations.
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