Biden admin officials weigh discouraging U.S. firms from expanding ties with Saudis
Joe Biden’s campaign chairman today was in his native New York City to meet with business leaders ahead of the Democratic presidential candidate’s town hall event this afternoon.
Peter W. Smith and his deputy campaign manager, Tara McPherson, were on the ground for the meeting. The Biden and McPherson were at the St. Regis hotel near Grand Central Station.
The group included representatives from financial services firms on Wall Street, investment banks, energy and water companies, and other large corporations.
Smith was attending a meeting with some of his closest aides and advisors about how best to move forward with the issue of ending U.S. engagement with the nation’s most prominent Arab allies.
The idea of doing away with the $1.3 billion in economic, tourism and military assistance annually given to the Saudis has been discussed for months, but has not gained traction among party leadership.
The Biden campaign had its own internal discussions about the potential trade-off of that relationship, with multiple sources now saying the campaign was considering the possibility of ending the relationship altogether, and was not necessarily opposed to continuing it, if at all, with Saudi Arabia.
The question remains, however, when a Biden-led administration would make that call.
“When you look at the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia, it’s a great partnership that’s been incredibly important to the security of the Middle East,” Smith told reporters, who were peppered with questions about the topic.
“And the question is whether or not the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia should be a priority — we’re talking about billions and billions of dollars a year, millions of jobs and hundreds of thousands of jobs — or whether or not we could focus on what’s more important to America and that’s helping America’s friends in the Middle East,” Smith said.
Smith’s comments underscore a major dilemma facing Biden: What to do with a nation that has stood by the United States in the event of a nuclear war or another catastrophe, and whose leaders have taken more than $1 trillion in weapons and