MBS smirks when asked by reporter during meeting with Biden if he'd apologize to Jamal Khashoggi's family

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman smirking.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrives at Kansai airport in Izumisano city, Osaka prefecture, on June 27, 2019 ahead of the G20 Osaka Summit.Charly Triballeau
  • MBS smirked when asked if he would apologize to Khashoggi's family, according to multiple reports.

  • The Saudi leader met with Biden in Saudi Arabia on Friday.

  • Biden has faced fierce criticism over his trip to Saudi Arabia, particularly in relation to Khashoggi.

As he met with President Joe Biden on Friday, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman smirked when he was asked by NBC reporter Peter Alexander if he would apologize to the family of Jamal Khashoggi.

"'Jamal Khashoggi, will you apologize to his family?' I shouted to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the end of the press pool spray. MBS had a slight smirk, before a Saudi aide grabbed my arm tightly," MBS said in a tweet. Another reporter also characterized MBS as smirking in response to Alexander's question.

Khashoggi, a Saudi national who was a columnist for the Washington Post, was brutally murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. Prince Mohammed, often referred to as MBS, was directly implicated in Khashoggi's killing in a declassified intelligence report released by the Biden administration last year.

"We assess that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi," said the report, provided by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

The Biden administration imposed sanctions on a number of Saudis after releasing the report, but did not target MBS with any economic penalties.


Biden, who fist bumped MBS on Friday, has faced fierce criticism over his trip to Saudi Arabia. On the campaign trail, he pledged to make the kingdom a "pariah" over Khashoggi's murder. Biden's visit to the oil-rich kingdom comes amid a global energy crisis linked to the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia's unprovoked war in Ukraine.

The president has defended his trip to Saudi Arabia by contending that the US needs to reassert its influence in the Middle East to avoid creating a power vacuum that's filled by China and Russia.

"I think we have an opportunity to reassert what I think we made a mistake of walking away from — our influence in the Middle East," Biden said Thursday during a news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid.

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