Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said during an online event last week that Mr. Biden got here into office desiring to be certain that the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia “was serving our own interests, in addition to our values, as we move forward.”
“But in addition preserving it,” Mr. Blinken added, “since it also helps us accomplish many vital things.”
He didn’t mention Saudi Arabia’s growing military and security ties to China, which he and Mr. Biden have each said is the best long-term challenger to the USA.
Individually, an advocacy group of close relatives of individuals killed within the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks is using the prospect of a visit by Mr. Biden to Saudi Arabia to extend pressure on the U.S. government to grapple with links between Saudi government officials and the hijackers. On Tuesday, they sent government leaders two letters on the subject with about 1,800 signatures, in accordance with an organizer of the trouble, Brett Eagleson, whose father was killed within the south tower of the World Trade Center.
The primary letter, addressed to Congress, asks for an oversight hearing to scrutinize links between Saudi government officials and the Sept. 11 plot. The second letter, addressed to Mr. Biden and Mr. Blinken, asks for the State Department to take the extraordinary step of designating Saudi Arabia as a state sponsor of terrorism, which might expose the oil-rich nation to economic sanctions.
“After nearly 21 years, we’re as determined as ever to carry the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia accountable for its role within the mass murder of our family members,” they wrote in each letters.
Last 12 months, ahead of the twentieth anniversary of the attacks, the Sept. 11 relations pressured Mr. Biden to declassify materials from the federal government’s scrutiny of Saudi links. Mr. Biden issued an executive order that has resulted in rolling releases of such materials. The letters cited excerpts, including a 130-page overview the F.B.I. wrote in July 2021 that stated that an investigation determined that two hijackers were assisted by a network centered on offices affiliated with the Saudi government, including its Los Angeles consulate.
Charlie Savage contributed reporting.