Record­ings prove Khashoggi ‘killed in Saudi Con­sulate’

Trump wary of halt­ing Saudi arms sales over jour­nal­ist

Iran Daily - - Front Page -

Saudi Ara­bia has called the al­le­ga­tion it ab­ducted or harmed Khashoggi “base­less.” How­ever, it has of­fered no ev­i­dence to sup­port its claim he left the con­sulate and van­ished de­spite his fi­ancée wait­ing out­side.

The 59-year-old jour­nal­ist, who was con­sid­ered close to the Saudi royal fam­ily, had be­come a critic of the cur­rent govern­ment and Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man, the 33-year-old heir ap­par­ent who has in­tro­duced re­forms but shown lit­tle tol­er­ance for crit­i­cism.

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said on Thurs­day that he saw no rea­son to cut off arms sales to Saudi Ara­bia be­cause of the dis­ap­pear­ance of Khashoggi, pos­si­bly set­ting up a clash with the US Congress.

Trump also said the United States may be closer to find­ing out what hap­pened to Khashoggi, a prom­i­nent critic of Saudi poli­cies who was last seen en­ter­ing the Saudi Con­sulate in Is­tan­bul on Oct. 2.

Speak­ing to re­porters, Trump said he saw no rea­son to block Saudi pur­chases of US arms or its in­vest­ments in the United States de­spite the jour­nal­ist’s case, say­ing the Arab king­dom would just move its money into Rus­sia and China.

“They’re spend­ing $110 bil­lion on mil­i­tary equip­ment and on things that cre­ate jobs ... for this coun­try. I don’t like the con­cept of stop­ping an in­vest­ment of $110 bil­lion into the United States, be­cause you know what they’re go­ing to do? They’re go­ing to take that money and spend it in Rus­sia or China or some­place else,” he said.

His com­ments prompted push­back from mem­bers of the US Sen­ate, in­clud­ing from some of his fel­low Repub­li­cans, many of whom signed a let­ter on Wed­nes­day forc­ing his ad­min­is­tra­tion to in­ves­ti­gate Khashoggi’s dis­ap­pear­ance and paving the way to pos­si­ble sanc­tions on Saudi of­fi­cials.

“If it’s found that they mur­dered a jour­nal­ist, that will hugely change our re­la­tion­ship,” Sen­a­tor Bob Corker, chair­man of the Sen­ate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee, told re­porters. “There will have to be sig­nif­i­cant sanc­tions placed at the high­est lev­els.”

The Khashoggi in­ci­dent might make it very hard for the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to win con­gres­sional ap­proval for arms sales to the Saudis. Many law­mak­ers, in­clud­ing some Repub­li­cans, have al­ready ques­tioned US sup­port for Saudi’s in­volve­ment in Ye­men’s war, which has prompted a hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis.

Un­der US law, ma­jor for­eign sales of mil­i­tary equip­ment can be blocked by Congress. There is also an in­for­mal process in which key law­mak­ers can put “holds” on arm sales.

Bri­tish bil­lion­aire Richard Bran­son said his Vir­gin Group would sus­pend its dis­cus­sions with Saudi Ara­bia’s Pub­lic In­vest­ment Fund over a planned $1 bil­lion in­vest­ment in the group’s space ven­tures, while a num­ber of me­dia com­pa­nies pulled out a planned Saudi in­vest­ment con­fer­ence.

The New York Times said it would no longer be a spon­sor of the Fu­ture In­vest­ment Ini­tia­tive con­fer­ence in Riyadh. Econ­o­mist Ed­i­tor-in-chief Zanny Min­ton Bed­does and CNBC an­chor and New York Times jour­nal­ist An­drew Ross Sorkin both de­cided they would no longer at­tend.

Reuters and AP con­trib­uted to this story.

AP

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