President Donald Trump reportedly met with the Saudi Arabian deputy minister of defense Prince Khalid bin Salman on January 6 amid escalating tensions in the Middle East, following a US airstrike that killed top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.
The meeting, which took place at the White House, was not made known to journalists as it wasn’t included in the public schedule.
The meeting only came to light two days later when Prince Khalid, who is also the younger brother of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman, tweeted photos of the meeting on January 8.
The photos include US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, Deputy National Security Advisor Victoria Coates and Senior White House Advisor Jared Kushner.
Prince Khalid said that he had a message from his brother, the crown prince, for Trump, but did not disclose the content of said message in his tweet.
“Under the generous directions of His Highness the Crown Prince, I met yesterday with His Excellency US President Donald Trump carrying a message from His Highness, and I also discussed with His Excellency aspects of cooperation, coordination and joint work between the two friendly countries in various aspects, including joint efforts to confront regional and international challenges,” Prince Khalid tweeted.
‘Disturbing’ levels of transparency
The White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA), an organization that represents the interests of journalists who cover the White House, has called out what they believe to be a cover-up and says it is disturbing that Saudi Arabia has better transparency as compared to the United States.
“[…] It is disturbing to see the government of Saudi Arabia have more transparency than the White House about a meeting with the President in the Oval Office,” reads the WHCA tweet quoting a statement by the organization.
WHCA’s President Jonathan Karl added that the ‘very least’ the White House could have done was to have issued a readout of the meeting once it was over.
Trump released a tweet after the meeting, claiming that he and the Saudi deputy defense minister had discussed topics involving trade, military and oil prices, among others. “Had a very good meeting with @kbsalsaud of Saudi Arabia. We discussed Trade, Military, Oil Prices, Security, and Stability in the Middle East!” Trump tweeted five hours after Prince Khalid’s tweet.
Brent crude, a global oil benchmark, was up 0.6% to almost $68 a barrel on January 8, following the Iran attacks on US bases in Iraq.