- White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Khashoggi's death would also likely come up in the talks
WASHINGTON: Saudi Arabia's deputy defence minister on Tuesday became the highest-ranking Saudi envoy to visit Washington since Joe Biden became president in January, and held talks with senior officials on the Yemen war and threats from Iran.
The minister, Prince Khalid bin Salman, is the younger brother of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country's de facto ruler, who is accused by US intelligence of approving a 2018 operation in which Washington Post columnist and Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi was killed, an allegation denied by Saudi Arabia.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Khashoggi's death would also likely come up in the talks.
The Trump White House had maintained strong ties with the crown prince despite Khashoggi's death at the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul.
But a White House statement on the minister's meeting with national security adviser Jake Sullivan did not mention Khashoggi's murder, although it said Sullivan "emphasized the importance of progress in advancing human rights in the Kingdom."
The two officials discussed the US partnership with Saudi Arabia, regional security and "the US commitment to help Saudi Arabia defend its territory as it faces attacks from Iranian-aligned groups."
The prince also met with Colin Kahl, the US defence undersecretary for policy, and the two discussed "efforts to end the war in Yemen and the shared US-Saudi commitment to counter Iran's destabilizing activities" and other issues, the Pentagon said.
Psaki said talks would also cover Saudi defence needs.
"They'll discuss the longstanding partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia, regional security and the US commitment to help Saudi Arabia defend its territory as it faces attacks from Iranian-aligned groups," she said.