Trump wary of halting Saudi arms sales over journalist

Hannah Rogers
October 12, 2018

A demonstrator dressed as Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed (centre) with blood on his hands protests with others outside the Saudi Embassy in Washington, DC, demanding justice for missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Last year, the United States and Saudi Arabia signed an arms deal under which the kingdom would purchase $110 billion in weapons.

According to The Washington Post, where Khashoggi was a contributor, he visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week to get a document for his upcoming wedding.

"He went in, and it doesn't look like he came out", Trump said in the Fox News interview.

Khashoggi left Saudi Arabia a year ago, saying he feared retribution for his criticism of Saudi policy in the Yemen war and its crackdown on dissent.

The Times report, which cited a senior official in the Ankara government, said Turkish authorities believe Khashoggi was murdered on orders from "the highest levels of the royal court" in Riyadh. Hunt said he had spoken to Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and had told him "how very, very concerned the United Kingdom is".

Kislakci also alleged, based on conversations with officials he did not name, that Khashoggi was made to "faint", then was dismembered.

Turkey said Tuesday it would search the Saudi Consulate.

"Is it possible for there to be no camera systems at the Saudi Arabia consulate, where the event took place?", Erdogan was quoted as saying by Hurriyet. Jamal Khashoggi has not been seen since he entered the building last week.

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Khashoggi is seen in a surveillance photo published by the Washington Post entering the consulate where Turkish officials believe he was killed earlier this month.

Mr Erdogan was quoted by Turkish media on Thursday as telling journalists - flying with him back home from a visit to Hungary - that "we can not remain silent to such an incident". They checked into two hotels in Istanbul, the paper said.

Turkish prosecutors have launched a probe into the whereabouts of the Saudi journalist.

A long-time critic of the Saudi government, Paul said he hoped Trump would reconsider his friendly policy towards Saudi Arabia "if there's any evidence they killed this journalist".

Turkish authorities suspect Khashoggi was murdered while inside the building, and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan says he is now personally involved in the case. the BBC reported.

However, Mr Trump ruled out suspending arms sales to Saudi Arabia who is being blamed for the disappearance, as suggested by some legislators. Turkish media have said the 15 were an "assassination team" and that they took the consulate's footage with them.

"We agree if there was any truth to the allegations of wrongdoing by the Saudi government it would be devastating to the US-Saudi relationship and there will be a heavy price to be paid - economically and otherwise".

Meanwhile, Mr Trump told reporters in the Oval Office he has a call in to Khashoggi's fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, who has appealed to the president and first lady Melania Trump for help.

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