Warn­ing of ‘se­vere pun­ish­ment’

Marlborough Express - - FRONT PAGE -

Don­ald Trump has threat­ened ‘‘se­vere pun­ish­ment’’ for Saudi Ara­bia if it is proven that the king­dom was -re­spon­si­ble for mur­der­ing Ja­mal Khashoggi, the miss­ing jour­nal­ist.

The US pres­i­dent said he was ‘‘very up­set and an­gry’’ about the case and in­di­cated that he was not fully con­vinced by the Saudis’ re­peated claims of in­no­cence. ‘‘Could it be them? Yes,’’ he said.

‘‘In the not too dis­tant fu­ture I think we’ll know an an­swer,’’ Trump told CBS News in a 60 Min­utes in­ter­view that will air to­day. ‘‘We’re go­ing to get to the bot­tom of it and there will be se­vere pun­ish­ment.’’

Khashoggi, who would have turned 60 yes­ter­day, has not been seen since he went into the Saudi con­sulate in Is­tan­bul on Oc­to­ber 2. Turk­ish of­fi­cials claim to have tapes of Saudi op­er­a­tives tor­tur­ing and mur­der­ing him, pos­si­bly recorded by the jour­nal­ist’s own Ap­ple Watch. Saudi Ara­bia has ve­he­mently de­nied any in­volve­ment.

Trump said he would not can­cel arms sales to Saudi Ara­bia, as a bi­par­ti­san group of se­na­tors have de­manded. ‘‘I don’t want to hurt jobs,’’ he said.

Sources close to the royal court said the in­ner cir­cle of Mo­hammed bin Sal­man, the Saudi crown prince, was shocked at the speed and in­ten­sity at which global anger over Khashoggi’s dis­ap­pear­ance turned to­wards Saudi Ara­bia.

Af­ter 11 days of blan­ket de­nials of re­spon­si­bil­ity, the Saudi gov­ern­ment is now try­ing to chart a more proac­tive course to deal with the fall­out while also try­ing to shield Crown Prince Mo­hammed’s own rep­u­ta­tion.

The crown prince has sum­moned home the Saudi am­bas­sador in Wash­ing­ton, his younger brother Prince Khalid bin Sal­man, for con­sul­ta­tions on how to ap­pease the US.

He also sent a team of of­fi­cials to Ankara to form a ‘‘joint work­ing group’’ with the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment to look into what hap­pened to the Saudi jour­nal­ist who had crit­i­cised his coun­try’s poli­cies.

A the­ory dis­cussed in prosaudi cir­cles is that Riyadh will try to get the Turks to agree to a joint state­ment ex­plain­ing Khashoggi’s death in a way that causes min­i­mal dam­age to Crown Prince Mo­hammed.

One pos­si­bil­ity is to say Khashoggi died of a heart at­tack in­side the con­sulate and his body was hid­den by pan­icked diplo­matic staff. – Tele­graph Group

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