NEW DELHI — The Saudi crown prince once vilified by US President Joe Biden has been elevated from a fist bump to a hearty handshake.
Biden warmly greets Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, Mohammed bin Salman, after they appeared together along with several other leaders at the Group of 20 summit today in New Delhi. The leaders had gathered to announce an ambitious plan to build a rail and shipping corridor linking India with the Middle East and Europe.
Biden smiles and shakes hands with the crown prince, who is often referred to by his initials MBS, as the announcement wrapped up. This year’s G20 host, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, quickly drapes his own hand over their hands.
The cordial greeting was a sharp contrast to the last time Biden and the crown prince met, just over a year ago, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. During that encounter, Biden awkwardly greeted the crown prince with a fist bump, a moment roundly criticized by human rights activists, who were already upset at Biden’s decision to meet with the Saudi leader.
Bin Salman has been harshly criticized for his human rights violations. US intelligence officials determined that the prince approved the 2018 murder of the US-based writer Jamal Khashoggi, who was a tough critic of the kingdom’s ruling family,