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EU leaders reject ‘blacklisting’ of Saudi Arabia, US territories

EU leaders reject ‘blacklisting’ of Saudi Arabia, US territories
EU member states have rejected a European Commission proposal to place Saudi Arabia on a ‘blacklist’ of countries accused of terrorist financing and money laundering. The proposal had already angered Washington and Riyadh.

Representatives from all 28 European Union states met in Brussels on Friday to vote on the proposal and unanimously rejected it, claiming it “was not established in a transparent and credible process,” according to a statement seen by Reuters.

The rejection came after a letter from Saudi King Salman urged EU leaders to oppose the blacklisting, arguing that it would “damage (Saudi Arabia’s) reputation on the one hand and it will create difficulties in trade and investment flows between the Kingdom and the European Union on the other.”

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The United States had also condemned the list, which included the US territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Although the US territories were suspected of aiding money laundering rather than terrorism, the Treasury Department in Washington called their inclusion “cursory.”

The Saudi government has long been accused of directly and indirectly supporting jihadists and terrorist organizations operating across the globe. In the United States, Riyadh has been accused of having ties with the Saudi nationals suspected of carrying out the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

EU-Saudi relations have deteriorated following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last October. In recent months, Denmark, Norway, and Germany have suspended arms exports to Riyadh, citing the country’s troubling human rights record and its bloody war against the Houthis in Yemen.

Despite the tension, the EU remains Saudi Arabia’s largest trading partner, accounting for 16 percent of the country’s global trade.

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