Trump reluctant to abandon Riyadh over missing journalist, wants evidence

18 October, 2018, 06:22 | Author: Kevin Carter
  • Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi speaks at an event hosted by Middle East Monitor in London

He also wrote that the crown prince "told me that he has already started, and will rapidly expand, a full and complete investigation into this matter".

Swaths of U.S. executives have declined to attend the Future Investment Initiative conference next week.

The secretary of state noted that the Saudi leaders, while denying knowledge of anything that occurred inside the consulate, had committed to accountability "including for Saudi Arabia's senior leaders or senior officials".

Trump foe Senator Chris Murphy (Democrat-Connecticut) said the Khashoggi case "should trigger a fundamental review of the nature of the United States' alliance with the Saudis".

"The answer is for now I am" still going, Mnuchin said, adding that if more information came out he would take it into consideration. There has been no such correction.

USA media outlets have reported that Turkish police investigators searching the Saudi Consulate had found evidence that Khashoggi was killed there, citing toxic material inside the building.

Turkish officials say Saudi agents killed and dismembered the Washington Post columnist, who had written opinion pieces critical of the crown prince.

But in the last few days, as major US businesses and media companies have withdrawn from a marquee investment conference in Riyadh, the United States, Turkey and Saudi Arabia appear to have been searching for a face-saving way out.

But in a series of tweets and interviews, US President Donald Trump appeared to support Saudi Arabia.

A man holds a poster of Jamal Khashoggi during a protest organised by members of the Turkish-Arabic Media Association at the entrance to Saudi Arabia's consulate. "Saudi Arabia, if you're listening, there are a lot of good people you can choose, but MBS has tainted your country and tainted himself".

Trump was defensive this week about the suggestion that his administration is trying to give the Saudis room to come up with a statement absolving Mohammed.

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America's top military officer has met with Saudi Arabia's defense chief amid deteriorating relations between the two nations after the disappearance and apparent death of a Saudi journalist who lived in the U.S.

Turkey has not shared with the USA government or European allies graphic audio or video evidence, seven US and European security officials told Reuters.

"If a country engages in activity that is unlawful it's unacceptable", he said.

And while President Donald Trump, a supporter of the Saudi rulers, is promoting Riyadh's denials of any role in Khashoggi's disappearance, even he says that investigating the situation is crucial.

At around 4:40 pm (1340 GMT) a team of a dozen police and prosecutors, including forensics experts in white overalls entered the residence of the consul, who was at the consulate when the alleged assassination of Khashoggi took place, according to Turkish media.

In Yemen, where the US-backed Saudi-led coalition is fighting Iran-backed Houthi Shiite rebel insurgency, the effort to blunt Tehran's increasing assertiveness would be hurt by any reduction in American help.

The timing of the transfer, first reported by the New York Times, raised questions about a potential payoff as Riyadh seeks to manage the blowback over allegations that Saudi agents were responsible for Khashoggi's disappearance.

In an interview with Fox News, a prominent Trump ally in the Senate called on Saudi Arabia to reject the crown prince, known as MBS, who rose to power previous year and has aggressively sought to soften the kingdom's image overseas and attract foreign investment.

Despite such heated rhetoric condemning the Saudis, others are suggesting the media seems eager to believe the claims of Turkish officials.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said his plans to attend an investment conference in Riyadh next week would be revisited on Thursday after U.S. officials have a chance to consult Pompeo.


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