Saudi prince prom­ises jus­tice

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS AMERICASAMERICA - By REUTERS and ZHAO HUANXIN in Wash­ing­ton

Saudi Ara­bia’s Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man vowed on Wednes­day that the killers of Ja­mal Khashoggi would be brought to jus­tice, in his first pub­lic com­ments since the jour­nal­ist’s mur­der sparked global con­dem­na­tion.

Prince Mo­hammed told in­ter­na­tional in­vestors at a ma­jor con­fer­ence in Riyadh that the furor over Khashoggi’s killing at the Saudi con­sulate in Is­tan­bul would not de­rail the king­dom’s re­form drive.

His com­ments came hours af­ter US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump was quoted by the Wall Street Jour­nal as say­ing that as Saudi Ara­bia’s de facto ruler, the crown prince bore ul­ti­mate re­spon­si­bil­ity for the op­er­a­tion that led to Khashoggi’s death.

“We will prove to the world that the two gov­ern­ments (Saudi and Turk­ish) are co­op­er­at­ing to pun­ish any crim­i­nal, any cul­prit and in the end jus­tice will pre­vail,” Mo­hammed said.

The world’s top oil ex­porter has been pres­sured over the death of Khashoggi, a colum­nist and one of the crown prince’s most prom­i­nent crit­ics.

The cri­sis has strained Riyadh’s ties with the West and led dozens of Western politi­cians, top world bankers and com­pany ex­ec­u­tives to boy­cott the con­fer­ence that opened in Riyadh on Tues­day.

French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron told King Sal­man in a phone call on Wednes­day that Paris, in co­or­di­na­tion with part­ners, could take ac­tion against those held re­spon­si­ble for the mur­der, the El­y­see palace said.

Bri­tain, also a ma­jor weapons sup­plier to the king­dom, de­scribed Riyadh’s ex­pla­na­tions as lack­ing cred­i­bil­ity. Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May said on Wednes­day that Bri­tain would pre­vent all sus­pects in the killing from en­ter­ing the coun­try, shortly be­fore she spoke to King Sal­man.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion and the US de­fense in­dus­try are scram­bling to save the few ac­tual deals in a much-touted $110 bil­lion arms pack­age for Saudi Ara­bia.

The US said on Tues­day it is re­vok­ing the visas of Saudis found to be im­pli­cated in the killing of jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi, an event that Trump de­scribed as a “to­tal fi­asco”.

“We have iden­ti­fied at least some of the in­di­vid­u­als re­spon­si­ble, in­clud­ing those in the in­tel­li­gence ser­vices, the Royal Court, the for­eign min­istry, and other Saudi min­istries who we sus­pect to have been in­volved in Mr Khashoggi’s death,” US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo said in Wash­ing­ton.

“We are tak­ing ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tions, which in­clude re­vok­ing visas, en­ter­ing visa look­outs, and other mea­sures,” he said on Tues­day af­ter­noon.

Pom­peo didn’t pro­vide de­tails when prompted by the press. But the State De­part­ment later said 21 “Saudi sus­pects” would have visas re­voked or would be de­clared in­el­i­gi­ble to en­ter the US, The As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported on Tues­day.

The sec­re­tary of state said the move to re­voke visas was just a first step.

“These penal­ties will not be the last word on this mat­ter from the United States,” Pom­peo said. “We will con­tinue to ex­plore ad­di­tional mea­sures to hold those re­spon­si­ble ac­count­able.”

He added, how­ever, that the US will con­tinue to main­tain a “strong part­ner­ship” with the King­dom of Saudi Ara­bia.

“We con­tinue to view as achiev­able the twin im­per­a­tives of pro­tect­ing Amer­ica and hold­ing ac­count­able those re­spon­si­ble for the killing of Mr Khashoggi,” he said.

Con­tact the writer at huanx­inzhao@chi­nadai­

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