Saudi Arabia’s deputy defense minister, Prince Khalid bin Salman, the son of King Salman and brother of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is on a visit to Washington that, while not a secret, was not publicly disclosed in advance.
Today’s meetings are at the State Department, while on Tuesday he met with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, and Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser. It’s the highest-profile visit by a Saudi official since the Biden administration declassified an intelligence assessment on the 2018 murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
As a presidential candidate, Joe Biden promised to deal with Saudi Arabia at arm’s length, given its human rights abuses, including the killing of Khashoggi. A CIA report alleged that Prince Khalid, then the Saudi ambassador to the US, personally assured Khashoggi’s safety in a phone call with the journalist just before he entered the consulate. It’s not clear if Khalid knew that Khashoggi would be killed, but reports say he made the call, intercepted by US intelligence, at his brother the crown prince’s direction.