Trump warns Saudis of se­vere pun­ish­ment if they killed re­porter

Pres­i­dent ramps up the pres­sure on king­dom af­ter dis­ap­pear­ance of ci­ti­zen who crit­i­cised its poli­cies

The Sunday Telegraph - - World news - By Raf Sanchez MID­DLE EAST COR­RE­SPON­DENT

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,” Mr 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.”

Mr Khashoggi, who would have turned 60 yes­ter­day, has not been seen since he went into the Saudi con­sulate in Is­tan­bul on Oct 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.

Mr 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 Mr Khash-

‘In the not too dis­tant fu­ture I think we’ll know an an­swer. We’re go­ing to get to the bot­tom of it’

oggi’s dis­ap­pear­ance

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.

In a state­ment yes­ter­day, Prince Ab­du­laziz bin Saud, the Saudi in­te­rior min­is­ter, de­nounced the “lies and base­less al­le­ga­tions” against the king­dom, in the first pub­lic com­ment by a Saudi min­is­ter since the cri­sis be­gan on Oct 2.

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

One pos­si­bil­ity is to say Mr Khashoggi died of a heart at­tack in­side the con­sulate and his body was hid­den by pan­icked diplo­matic staff. It is not clear that Turkey could agree to a sani­tised ver­sion of events, given that of­fi­cials there have leaked lurid claims to the press of Saudi spies and sol­diers al­legedly mur­der­ing Mr Khashoggi.

Blam­ing the se­cu­rity ser­vices comes with its own risks. Turkey may de­mand Saudi Ara­bia hand over the al­leged killers for prose­cu­tion, po­ten­tially caus­ing a back­lash at home. turned to­wards

On a role

Ni­cole Kid­man last night at the Academy of Mo­tion Pic­ture Arts and Sciences new mem­bers’ re­cep­tion at the Na­tional Gallery, Lon­don. The Aus­tralian ac­tress, 51, is tipped to be nom­i­nated for her part in De­stroyer.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.