President Joe Biden played down the fact he bumped fists with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the start of his trip to Saudi Arabia by calling it a meaningless gesture.
Shortly after midnight on Sunday morning, Biden arrived back at the White House, where he was met by reporters on the South Lawn. This marked the conclusion of his journey back from his first trip to the Middle East as president.
Even after the White House stated Biden would still not make contact when meeting with rulers in the Middle East, due to risks associated with COVID-19, one person asked Biden if he had come to regret the fist bump, which drew universal criticism.
Fist bump between President Biden and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Al Salam Royal Palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. pic.twitter.com/37Oz5EwwIB
— CSPAN (@cspan) July 15, 2022
“Something That Matters”
As a response, Biden questioned them by asking, “Why don’t you chat about something that counts?”
President Biden, returning to WH, says Saudi FM not telling truth
Biden then chided reporter for asking about MBS fist bump, telling press to 'talk about something that matters'
He proceeded to say he's 'hoping' inflation will go down and 'working on' freeing pot inmates https://t.co/NRl6ccmgRI pic.twitter.com/xEUHDHu4MS
— Steven Nelson (@stevennelson10) July 17, 2022
As President Biden arrived at Al Salman Palace in Jeddah on Friday, he was greeted by Bin Salman, also known as MBS, with a fist bump captured on camera.
This action caused controversy and drew criticism of Biden. During the question and answer session that followed Biden’s meeting with MBS, he chuckled when a reporter pointed out that he received “a lot of fire” for it.
However, even his allies were critical of him for the greeting.
Rep. Adam Schiff tweeted, “If ever we needed a perceptible reminder of the ongoing grip oil-rich authoritarian leaders have over U.S. foreign Middle East policy, we got it today. A simple bump of the fist tells more than a thousand words.”
In particular, there was a lot of focus on Biden’s decision of whether or not he would question MBS about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi 2018, who was a citizen of the United States and a journalist for the Washington Post.
The murder took place at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul.
In spite of the fact an assessment from the United States intelligence community revealed MBS authorized the operation, Saudi officials denied MBS had any involvement in the killing.
During their encounter, Biden claims to have brought the issue of Khashoggi up with the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia.
According to CNN, Saudi officials claim that MBS confronted President Biden about the treatment of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq by members of the United States military, as well as the US’ response to the murder of Palestinian American reporter Shireen Abu Akleh in the inhabited West Bank.
When asked if he would keep his campaign commitment to free all cannabis inmates in jail, Biden stated that he does not believe “anybody should be in jail for the use of marijuana.”
He also stated that he was “hoping” that inflation would go down.