The White House confirmed that President Joe Biden spoke with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Thursday marking the first conversation between the two leaders since Biden’s inauguration.
The phone call came a day after reports surfaced of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s involvement in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Biden administration is expected to release a report in the coming days detailing US intelligence into Khashoggi’s death.
Thursday's conversation was noteworthy as Biden directed his head-of-state conversation with the elderly king instead of his son, the crown prince, who has largely assumed power over the nation.
In the conversation, Biden “noted positively the recent release of several Saudi-American activists and Ms. Loujain al-Hathloul from custody, and affirmed the importance the United States places on universal human rights and the rule of law,” the White House said.
According to the White House, the US discussed renewed diplomatic efforts to end the war in Yemen. Biden renewed the United States’ commitment to help Saudi Arabia defend its territory from Iran-backed groups, according to the White House.