Biden greets Saudi Crown Prince MBS, whom he once called a “pariah” at the G20 summit, with a warm handshake

President Biden gave a warm handshake to Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, on Saturday, flashing a big smile as he chatted with the man he once called an international “pariah.”

The friendly three-way meeting with the prince and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took place on Saturday at the G20 summit in New Delhi, 14 months after Biden’s notorious fist bump with the de facto Saudi leader, accused of a series of human rights violations. abuses.

In 2021, the US intelligence community discovered that the crown prince known as MBS ordered an operation in 2018 that led to the brutal dismemberment death of a prominent critic, opinion columnist Jamal Khashoggi, inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

During his presidential campaign, Biden sharply criticized MBS for the Khashoggi murder, threatening that his White House would make the Saudis “pay the price and make them, in effect, the pariahs that they are.”

Biden and the crown prince, Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, exchanged a fist bump, not a handshake, when they met for the first time in July 2022.AP
Joe BidenBiden spoke at the G20 summit in New Delhi, India, where he met in person with MBS for the second time during his presidency.POOL/AFP via Getty Images
Mohamed bin SalmanSaudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman attends a session on “Global Infrastructure and Investment Partnership” as part of the G20 summit.POOL/AFP via Getty Images

But a huge rise in gas prices and the resulting rise in inflation prompted Biden to soften his rhetoric (and body language) during his July 2022 visit to the Saudi capital, Jeddah, where he asked MBS in vain for a increase in the kingdom’s oil production.

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Biden’s conciliation at the time drew scorn from critics.

“The blood of MBS’s next victim is on your hands,” criticized Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancée.

Five months later, in December 2022, a federal judge dismissed Cengiz’s civil suit against MBS after the Biden administration intervened to argue that the prince should be granted sovereign immunity in the case.

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