US is aiming to put Saudi relationship on right footing

F.P. Report

WASHINGTON DC: Ned Price, Department Spokesperson on Tuesday, commented on the recent report published by CIA over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

He stated that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence published an unclassified report on the gruesome killing of Jamal Khashoggi, saying we seek a partnership that reflects our important work together and our shared interests and priorities, but also one conducted with greater transparency, responsibility, and accord with America’s values.

In re-establishing U.S. expectations for our relationship with Saudi Arabia, our intent is to make this partnership which already spans some 80 years even more sustainable going forward, Ned Price said.

While commenting on the foreign policy of the newly elected presidency, he added that President Biden used his first major foreign policy address right here at the State Department to reorient U.S. policy around ending the war in Yemen and addressing the humanitarian crisis in that country.

He announced the end of U.S. support for offensive operations, including relevant arms sales, and the administration immediately halted two arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Price stated. President Biden not simply change our policy to cut off U.S. support for offensive military operations, he doubled and redoubled American diplomacy to end the war itself, spokesperson said.

The administration named a special envoy for Yemen, a well-respected senior diplomat, a Foreign Service officer, Tim Lenderking, who is traveling in the Gulf right now, his second in the region since assuming that position, he said we are working closely with the UN to bring the parties together to bring this conflict to an end.

We have been encouraged by the cooperation we’ve received to date from Saudi Arabia and believe we initiated a process that is gaining momentum to achieve a negotiated settlement to the conflict and to bring peace to the Yemeni people, the U.S State Department spokesperson said.

While underlining U.S assistance for the conflict zone of Yemen he added that on the humanitarian front, Secretary Blinken participated in a high-level pledging conference for Yemen where he announced nearly $191 million in additional U.S. humanitarian assistance, bringing total U.S. aid to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people as well as refugees and other forcibly displaced persons in Yemen to more than 3.4 billion since this crisis began some six years ago.

Our assistance reaches all corners of Yemen. We also have been working to ensure generous contributions to the humanitarian relief effort by other donors, including, importantly, governments in the region. But the political track must support these humanitarian efforts, he mentioned.

Furthermore Ned Price underscored that U.S is also continuing its efforts to help Saudi Arabia defend itself from external attacks against the kingdom. On Saturday night, with our support, Saudi Arabia successfully intercepted several UAVs and a ballistic missile with which the Houthis tried to attack innocent civilians in Riyadh and other locations in the kingdom, he said.

Based on these complex Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia, we are considering taking additional steps to promote accountability for the Houthi leadership, Price commented.

U.S State Department spokesperson also underscored human rights violations in Saudi Arabia, highlighting that we have made clear to Saudi leaders that we see value in sustaining our partnership, but actions like jailing women’s rights activists and Americans and holding them for months or even years without charges those undermine our ties. It undermines our cooperation he said.

We have been encouraged in recent weeks to see Saudi Arabia release several U.S. citizens and human rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul from custody.

But we are urging Saudi Arabia to take additional steps to lift travel bans on those released, to commute sentences, and resolve cases such as those women rights activists and others, spokesperson said.

During the weekly press brifing he also remarked that, ‘We also want to make clear that our leadership would not ignore or minimize egregious misconduct, adding that it takes us back to the beginning. On Friday, our Office of the Director of National Intelligence released an unclassified assessment of the responsibility for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

The State Department spokesperson also ensured that to that end, the State Department will further enhance documentation in its annual Human Rights Report of incidents where countries extraterritorially harass or target dissidents, activists, or journalists.

We added another former senior Saudi intelligence official, Ahmad al-Asiri, to the list of those designated under Global Magnitsky sanctions for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, Price commented.

The department announced a new visa policy that empowers the Secretary of State to suspend entry into this country by any individual believed to be actively engaged in extraterritorial abuse of dissidents or journalists on behalf of a foreign government, he said.

Moreover, the spokesperson also highlighted that, we call this visa restrictions policy under Section 212(a)(3)(C) of the INA, the Khashoggi Ban. As an initial step under this new global authority, we’ve taken action to impose visa restrictions on 76 Saudi individuals involved in the Khashoggi killing or in other acts of territorial repression, he mentioned.

It is our intention to prevent them and their immediate family members from ever setting foot on American soil again, Price remarked.

Ned Price also remarked that, U.S is aware of a network known as the Rapid Intervention Force, a unit of the Saudi royal guard that has engaged in counter-dissident operations, including the operation that resulted in the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Others, like Saud al-Qahtani and Ahmad al-Asiri, led the planning of the operation against Khashoggi, he said.

Regarding the sanctions, he commented that we have sanctioned the group and these individuals under the Global Magnitsky sanctions that are working and we are working to share information about this group’s practices with other governments as well.

We are committed to applying the Khashoggi Ban and other tools as deemed appropriate.

We have urged Saudi Arabia to disband this group and then adopt institutional, systemic reforms and controls to ensure that anti-dissident activities and operations cease and cease completely.

We have made crystal clear and will continue to do so that the brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi 28 months ago remains unacceptable conduct, he mentioned.

While mentioning issues between U.S and Saudi Arabia he add that U.S seeks to accomplish a great deal with the Saudis to end the war in Yemen and ease Yemen’s humanitarian crisis, to use our leadership to forge ties across the region’s most bitter divide, whether that’s finding the way back from the brink of war with Iran into a meaningful regional dialogue or forging a historic peace with Israel; to help young Saudis open their society to connect to the world, to seize their full potential, and to build ties with Americans.

But we can only address these many important challenges in a partnership with Saudi Arabia that respects America’s values, Price emphasized.

U.S is working to put the Saudi relationship on the right footing, to move the region toward greater peace and prosperity while also addressing those very grave concerns that the President and our team share with Congress and many Americans, he added.