Biden tells Arab leaders that citizens should be able to question without fear


President Joe Biden offered another lecture on human rights in his speech to Arab leaders on Saturday, saying no country gets it ‘right all the time’ but leaders need to accept criticism and grow from their mistakes.

‘No country gets it right all the time, even most of the time, including the United States,’ Biden said in his remarks to the GCC+3 summit. ‘But our people are our strength. Our countries with the confidence to learn from the mistakes grow stronger.’

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud was among the leaders listening as Biden gave his lecture. The president, however, didn’t mention by name Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post journalist who intelligence agencies said was killed at the prince’s orders. 

His meaning, however, was clear, when he said that citizens should be able to ‘question and criticize their leaders without fear of reprisal.’ Khashoggi was critical of MBS and his plans for the kingdom. 

Biden said he’s gotten plenty of criticism himself over the years and while it’s ‘not fun’ it helps the exchange of ideas. 

‘I’ve gotten plenty of criticism over the years. It’s not fun. But the ability to speak openly and exchange ideas freely is what unlocks innovation,’ he said. ‘Accountable institutions that are free from corruption and act transparently and respect the rule of law are the best way to deliver growth, respond to people’s needs, and I believe ensure justice.’

President Joe Biden offered another lecture on human rights in his speech to Arab leaders, saying leaders need to accept criticism and grow from their mistakes

President Joe Biden (center left) and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (center right) pose for a family picture with other leaders in the GCC+3

President Joe Biden (center left) and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (center right) pose for a family picture with other leaders in the GCC+3

President Joe Biden, center left, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, center, arrive for the family photo

President Joe Biden, center left, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, center, arrive for the family photo

President Joe Biden attends the Gulf Cooperation Council meeting

President Joe Biden attends the Gulf Cooperation Council meeting

The speech was Biden’s outline of his vision for the Gulf region and the American role there. It came at the end of his four-day trip the region, his first as president.

In his remarks, he again vowed to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and pushed for stronger ties among the countries in the region. Biden wants to see Israel more intergrated to help counter the growing threat of Iran.

He also vowed the U.S. won’t ‘walk away.’ 

‘We will not walk away and leave a vacuum to be filled by China, Russia or Iran,’ he said. ‘We will seek to build on this moment with active, principled, American leadership.’ 

Biden concluded by vowing the United States would stay involved in the Middle East region. 

‘Let me conclude by summing all this up in one sentence. The United States is invested in building a positive future in the region, in partnership with all of you and the United States is not going anywhere.’

Biden spent the final day of his trip holding one-on-one meetings with the leaders of Iraq, Egypt, and the UAE as he worked to reassert U.S. influence in the region.  

The president formally invited the leader of the United Arab Emirates to the United States by the end of the year as he kicked off day two in Saudi Arabia with a trio of meetings with Arab leaders. 

‘Challenges you face today only make it a heck of a lot more important we spend time together,’ he told UAE President Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. ‘I want to formally invite you to the States.’ 

The Sheik, who assumed office in May, conceded that he was new to the job, but working hard. 

The 79-year-old Biden, who won his first federal election in 1972, joked that he was new too, getting a laugh from the Sheik. 

The UAE is part of the ‘I2U2’ that met partially in-person and part virtually on Thursday, while Biden was holding meetings with Israel’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid – part of the president’s four day trip to the Middle East. 

The I2U2 consists of the United States, Israel, the UAE and India. 

UAE’s President Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and India’s Narendra Modi Narendra participated virtually. 

But UAE’s leader met in-person with Biden in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia Saturday as part of the GCC + 3 – bringing together leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman – as well as the heads of state of the United States, Egypt and Iraq. 

Biden will again be face-to-face with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as the leaders take a ‘family photo’ together – and spend the afternoon in meetings. 

On Friday, after Biden became the first U.S. president to fly between Tel Aviv, Isreal and the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah, Biden greeted MBS with a fist-bump, a gesture that received criticism from allies of slain Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. 

President Joe Biden (right) formally invited United Arab Emirates President Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (left) to the United States when they met Friday afternoon in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

President Joe Biden (right) formally invited United Arab Emirates President Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (left) to the United States when they met Friday afternoon in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia 

A handout photo of President Joe Biden (left) fist-bumping Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (right) as he arrived for a meeting with the controversial royal Friday evening in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

A handout photo of President Joe Biden (left) fist-bumping Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (right) as he arrived for a meeting with the controversial royal Friday evening in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia 

President Joe Biden said Friday night that he brought up the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in his meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

President Joe Biden said Friday night that he brought up the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in his meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

In remarks to reporters after his meeting with the Saudis, Biden insisted that he brought up the gruesome murder of Khashoggi, a Saudi-born critic of the kingdom who lived in the United States.

‘In respect to the murder of Khashoggi, I raised it at the top of the meeting, making it clear what I thought of it at the time, and what I think of it now,’ Biden said. ‘I was straightforward and direct … I made my view crystal clear.’ 

‘What happened to Khashoggi was outrageous,’ Biden later offered.

But when questioned about criticism of the fist bump by a DailyMail.com reporter, Biden laughed and then said it was a ‘silly question’ when asked how he can be sure another murder like that of Khashoggi wouldn’t happen again. 

Fred Ryan, the publisher and CEO of The Washington Post – which employed Khashoggi – called Biden’s fist bump with the crown prince ‘shameful.’

‘The fist bump between President Biden and Mohammed bin Salman was worse than a handshake – it was shameful,’ Ryan said in a statement. ‘It projected a level of intimacy and comfort that delivers to MBS the unwarranted redemption he has been desperately seeking.’ 

Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancée, shared what she believed her late love’s reaction would be to the fist bump: ‘Is this the accountability you promised for my murder? The blood of MBS’s next victims is on your hands.’ 

President Joe Biden (right) kicked off his second day in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with a bilateral meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi (left)

President Joe Biden (right) kicked off his second day in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with a bilateral meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi (left) 

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi speaks during a meeting with President Joe Biden in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Saturday

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi speaks during a meeting with President Joe Biden in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Saturday 

President Joe Biden's (right) second meeting was with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi (left)

President Joe Biden’s (right) second meeting was with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi (left) 

Biden was also read Cengiz’s comments by a reporter, who then asked for the president’s response. 

‘I’m sorry she feels that way,’ the president answered. ‘I was straightforward back then. I was straightforward today.’

Prior to inviting UAE’s president to the U.S., Biden met with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.

Biden talked about Iraq’s move to democracy in his meeting with the wartorn country’s leader. 

‘I want the press and you to know we want to be helpful as we can in doing that,’ the president told reporters in the room. 

Later in a readout of the meeting, the White House said the leaders ‘reaffirmed the importance of forming a new Iraqi government responsive to the will of the Iraqi people and their respect for Iraq’s democracy and independence.’

‘President Biden underscored the importance the United States places on a stable, united, sovereign, and prosperous Iraq, to include Iraq’s Kurdistan region,’ the readout said. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk