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US Lawmakers Demand Clarification on ’Khashoggi Ban’ Amid Saudi Prince’s Visit

US Lawmakers Demand Clarification on ’Khashoggi Ban’ Amid Saudi Prince’s Visit
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By Staff, Agencies

Two US lawmakers are pressing the administration of President Joe Biden to explain why it granted a visa to Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman and whether he was included on its list of Saudis banned from entering the United States over the 2018 murder of prominent Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Congressmen Tom Malinowski and Brian Fitzpatrick sent a letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday as Prince Khalid, the younger brother of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman [MBS], is on a visit to Washington this week. He met with White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Tuesday.

The prince served as Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Washington when Khashoggi, also a US resident, was murdered in 2018.

“According to public reports, Prince Khalid met with a range of senior US government officials, seemingly undermining the Administration’s February 2021 statements indicating that you would seek to recalibrate the US-Saudi relationship by engaging your official counterparts,” the letter said.

“We seek to understand the rationale for Prince Khalid’s multiple visits and whether the Department of State reviewed allegations regarding his alleged role in targeting Saudi dissidents, consistent with the Administration’s Khashoggi Visa Ban,” it added.

Prince Khalid, who also traveled to Washington last July, is the highest-profile Saudi to visit the US capital since the Biden administration released a long-awaited intelligence report concluding that MBS is linked to the case of Khashoggi’s murder.

Khashoggi’s killing inside the Saudi consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul back in October 2018 raised a global outcry and put pressure on the Saudi crown prince.

US intelligence agencies admitted last year that Mohammed bin Salman ordered a team of Saudi operatives to kill Khashoggi. In February, the Biden administration confirmed the crown prince had masterminded the brutal murder.

Riyadh continues to reject this, claiming that the journalist was killed in a rogue operation.