President Joe Biden’s national-security adviser on Wednesday said he “can’t put a date or a time on when the president will announce any given step” on U.S. policy toward Saudi Arabia.
“The president wants to make sure that he is consulting closely with the Congress on a bipartisan basis as he reevaluates, and so he looks forward to engaging the Congress when they return,” said National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, when asked by a reporter about a possible “strategic rethink” of the U.S.-Saudi relationship.
U.S. House lawmakers are mostly away from Washington, D.C., and focused on their Nov. 8 midterm elections, while the Senate is in session this week and next week but also largely dealing with midterms.
Sullivan’s comment during a press briefing sparked more questions about Saudi Arabia, including whether Biden could talk to lawmakers now and whether he supports pausing arms sales to the county.
“This is a process that has begun — it’s underway,” Sullivan said in response. “It will involve some engagement with members even now … and then it will continue when Congress returns. I can’t put a date or a time on when the president will announce any given step. Some could happen sooner, some could happen over a more extended time period.”
“When it comes to arms sales, I would just point out that nothing is moving imminently,” he also said. “So there is not an imminent decision that has to be made on the question of arms sales, but that is something that we will be looking at, along with everything else.”
He made his statements as the Biden administration on Wednesday rolled out its national-security strategy. Sullivan is slated to deliver a speech on that topic at 2 p.m. Eastern at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
A 48-page document that lays out the strategy says in part that the “most pressing strategic challenge facing our vision is from powers that layer authoritarian governance with a revisionist foreign policy.”
“It is their behavior that poses a challenge to international peace and stability — especially waging or preparing for wars of aggression, actively undermining the democratic political processes of other countries, leveraging technology and supply chains for coercion and repression, and exporting an illiberal model of international order,” the document says.
“Many non-democracies join the world’s democracies in forswearing these behaviors. Unfortunately, Russia and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) do not.”