Biden’s meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman pushed back to July
Biden is still expected to travel later this month to Germany and Spain for the G7 and NATO summits respectively.
Officials determined that two separate trips — one to Europe and one to the Middle East — would allow for more time to plan and set a schedule and agenda.
Biden on Friday defended the prospect of meeting with Prince Mohammed.
“I have been engaged in trying to work with how we can bring more stability and peace in the Middle East and there is a possibility that I would be going to meet with both the Israelis and some Arab countries at the time — including, I expect, would be Saudi Arabia, would be included in that if I did go,” the President said.
But even ahead of a formal announcement about the meeting, it has drawn scrutiny, including from Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz.
“President Biden’s decision to meet MBS is horribly upsetting to me and supporters of freedom and justice everywhere. President Biden, if he meets MBS, will have lost his moral compass and greatly heightened my grief,” she said in a statement to CNN, referring to the crown prince by his initials.
9/11 Families United, a group representing family members of those who died in the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, also urged Biden in a letter Thursday to raise Saudi Arabia’s role in the attack should he meet with Prince Mohammed or other leaders in Riyadh.
On Saturday, the group said it was “pleased” Biden’s expected meeting was pushed back.
“We are pleased that President Biden is taking a step back and evaluating his priorities for this Saudi trip,” Terry Strada, the group’s national chair, said in a statement. “The September 11th community looks forward to his engagement with us.”
This story has been updated with additional developments.
CNN’s Veronica Stracqualursi and Arlette Saenz contributed to this report.