Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, wearing shorts at his seaside palace, sought a relaxed tone for his first meeting with President Biden’s national-security adviser, Jake Sullivan, last September.
The 36-year-old crown prince ended up shouting at Sullivan after he raised the 2018 killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The prince told Sullivan he never wanted to discuss the matter again, said people familiar with the exchange. And the U.S. could forget about its request to boost oil production, he told Sullivan.
The relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia has hit its lowest point in decades, with Biden saying in 2019 that the kingdom should be treated like a pariah over human-rights issues such as Khashoggi’s murder.
“‘Over the course of the last 77 years of Saudi-U.S relations, there have been many disagreements and differing points of view over many issues, but that has never stopped the two countries from finding a way to work together.’”
— Unnamed Saudi official as quoted by the Wall Street Journal
From the archives (July 2021): U.S. hosts highest-ranking Saudi official since intel report on Khashoggi’s killing
The political fissures have deepened since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, senior Saudi and U.S. officials said. The White House wanted the Saudis to pump more crude, both to tame oil prices and undercut Moscow’s war finances. The kingdom hasn’t budged, keeping in line with Russian interests.