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US Biden stresses human rights in talk with Saudi king

A protestor holds 'We didn't forget Jamal Khashoggi' during a protest in front of Saudi Consulate in New York to protest against Saudi Arabia's decision to execute three leading Saudi Arabian scholars including Salman al-Awdah after Ramadan, in New York, United States on 1 June 2019. [Atılgan Özdil - Anadolu Agency]
A protester holds a card reading 'We didn't forget Jamal Khashoggi' during a protest in front of Saudi Consulate in New York, US York, on 1 June 2019 [Atılgan Özdil/Anadolu Agency]

US President Joe Biden raised human rights in a call with Saudi King Salman after reading a forthcoming US report into the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the White House announced according to the Wall Street Journal reports.

Biden and Salman discussed "regional security, including the renewed diplomatic efforts led by the United Nations and the United States to end the war in Yemen, and the U.S. commitment to help Saudi Arabia defend its territory as it faces attacks from Iranian-aligned groups."

"The President told King Salman he would work to make the bilateral relationship as strong and transparent as possible. The two leaders affirmed the historic nature of the relationship and agreed to work together on mutual issues of concern and interest," the White House said in the statement.

The US is set to release a report following an investigation into the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The report is expected to say that Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman approved "and likely ordered" Khashoggi's killing.

Khashoggi, a US-based journalist and critic of Saudi Arabia's government, was murdered in 2018 inside the Saudi consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul.

According to Amnesty International, Saudi authorities "escalated repression of the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. They harassed, arbitrarily detained and prosecuted dozens of government critics, human rights defenders, including women's rights activists, members of the Shi'a minority and family members of activists."

READ: US summons for UAE, Saudi crown princes in Al Jazeera hacking case

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