Biden to look beyond Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia- POLITICO

With help from Christopher Miller and Daniel Lippman

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A note to all students of international relations: If you want to see “realpolitik” in action, make sure to watch two minutes of President JOE BIDEN’s news conference in Israel today.

Alex was in attendance for the event, which followed Biden’s bilateral with Israeli Prime Minister YAIR LAPID. Reporters had to be at the Waldorf Astoria two hours early, giving us time to wash down sandwiches with warm water while chatting up administration officials. All those conversations were off the record, but it’s safe to say something on all of our minds, amid the glitz and glamor of the moment, was if Biden planned to address the murder of journalist and dissident JAMAL KHASHOGGI while in Saudi Arabia.

After all, he’s headed to Jeddah on Friday, and the press hadn’t had much of a chance to speak with the president directly since he arrived on Wednesday. Plus, the slain U.S. resident’s wife, HANAN ELATR KHASHOGGI, told Fox News that the White House promised her husband’s killing would be mentioned.

Reuters’ STEVE HOLLAND, seated right behind Alex at the presser, forced the issue when he asked Biden if he would bring up Khashoggi’s killing and other human rights abuses directly with Saudi leaders, namely Crown Prince MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN.

The president dodged.

“My views on Khashoggi have been absolutely, positively clear, and I have never been quiet about talking about human rights,” but “the reason I’m going to Saudi Arabia, though, is much broader. It’s to promote U.S. interests,” Biden said. “We have an opportunity to reassert what I think we made a mistake of walking away from: our influence in the Middle East.”

When Holland pressed that Biden, therefore, didn’t expect to bring up Khashoggi with MBS, the president asserted that his position on the matter is “so clear. If anyone doesn’t…