Daily US Times: US President Joe Biden has raised human rights issue when talked by phone with King Salman of Saudi Arabia as he seeks to put relations with America’s old ally on a new footing.
The White House said Mr Biden “affirmed the importance” the US “places on universal human rights and the rule of law”.
Biden faced pressure from human rights groups to mention the issue with Saudis.
President Biden made the call after reading a forthcoming US report into the murder of Washington Post columnist journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The report is due to be released shortly and it is expected to implicate the king’s son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Former President Donald Trump pursued closer ties with Saudi Arabia.
The Trump administration rejected a legal requirement to release the report in declassified form, focusing instead on improved co-operation with Saudi Arabia.
The US President is expected to take a much tougher stance on certain Saudi positions.
During the murder in 2018 inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, Saudi journalist Khashoggi’s body was dismembered. The crown prince denies involvement.
The country blamed his death on a “rogue operation” by a team of agents sent to return him to the kingdom, and court in the country tried and sentenced five individuals to 20 years in prison last September, after initially sentencing them to death.
In the White House statement, Khashoggi’s name was not mentioned, but it said: “The President noted positively the recent release of several Saudi-American activists and Ms. Loujain al-Hathloul from custody, and affirmed the importance the United States places on universal human rights and the rule of law.”