Prince Khaled, commonly referred to as KBS, is hoping to reach out to a wide range of US opinion inside and outside of the U.S. capital
Prince Khaled bin Salman begins works as Saudi Arabia’s new ambassador to Washington
Prince Khaled bin Salman has got off to an energetic start as Saudi Arabia’s new ambassador to Washington, making the rounds in the US capital as Riyadh tries to deal with a set of policy challenges and opportunities with the Trump administration.
Prince Khaled, 28, who is referred to as KBS among people close to him, is energetic, dynamic and is hoping to reach out to a wide range of US opinion inside and outside Washington.
“I want to reintroduce Saudi Arabia to the United States,”` the ambassador said after presenting his credentials to president Donald Trump last Friday.
Prince Khaled also referenced changes in the kingdom's leadership and said Saudi Arabia was "continuing to change and modernise”, according to a statement released by the Saudi Press Agency. .
“I want to engage Americans in new ways to introduce and describe the important economic and social reforms now under way,” he said.
Prince Khaled’s background as an F-15 fighter pilot who took part in the air campaign against ISIL in 2014 has already opened doors to him in the Pentagon. He met defence secretary James Mattis and held one-on-one talks with Brett McGurk, the US envoy for the coalition against ISIL.
Mr McGurk tweeted: “Warm welcome to DC for new #KSA Amb. to USA, Prince Khalid bin Salman. Grateful for Saudi leadership in our @coalition to destroy #ISIS.”
Stephen Seche, the executive vice president of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington and a former US ambassador to Yemen, said Saudi Arabia's new envoy faced challenges and opportunities in Washington.
“Prince Khaled has a challenging agenda, between the Yemen war, the Qatar dispute, Jasta, the promise of Vision 2030 to liberalise the Saudi economy and explaining those to the US public,” he said.
Jasta refers to The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, that allows citizens to file civil claims against sovereign states. Despite a veto from former US President Barack Obama and warnings of consequences on US-Saudi relations, JASTA passed Congress last September. Since then, Riyadh has undertaken efforts to garner support and amend the law, an uphill battle that would require two thirds support in the US Senate.
However, Prince Khaled has an important asset in that “he has the confidence of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman”, added Mr Seche, who had just returned from a trip to Saudi Arabia.
“He is going to be the preferred channel” between the Trump White House and Riyadh, he said.
The expert also referenced the ambassador bringing in a "strong staff to the embassy." That most recently included Prince Faisal bin Farhan, now a senior adviser at the embassy.
Prince Khaled is Saudi Arabia's tenth ambassador to the US, taking over the posting from Prince Abdullah bin Faisal.