MBS ‘could very well’ have known of Khashoggi killing, but Saudi Arabia still a ‘great ally’ – Trump
US President Trump has said that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “could very well” have known in advance about the plan to kill journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but the US will remain a “steadfast partner” of Saudi Arabia.
In a statement released Tuesday, Donald Trump said that Khashoggi’s murder was an “unacceptable and horrible crime,” and that as American intelligence agencies continue to investigate the case, “it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event.”
BREAKING: US President Donald Trump issues statement in Support of #Saudi Arabia as regional partner & vs Iran.Says MBS may or may not have known about #Khashoggi murder. 3 page statement here : pic.twitter.com/HHwjH73qlc— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) November 20, 2018
Trump went no further with that train of thought, and instead reaffirmed the strategic alliance between the US and Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom, he wrote, is an important ally against Iran and a vital supplier of oil.
The president again touted the importance of maintaining the US’ $110 billion arms deal with the Saudi government, which he said means “tremendous economic development” for the US.
“I’m not going to destroy the world economy, and I’m not going to destroy the economy for our country by being foolish with Saudi Arabia,” Trump told reporters on Tuesday.
Trump’s insistence on maintaining lucrative arms deals stands in stark contrast with the response from some of his allies. On Monday, the German Economic Ministry confirmed that all of its arms deals with Saudi Arabia, including those inked before Khashoggi’s disappearance in October, have been canceled.
Trump did however sanction 17 Saudi individuals last week, including Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, who Turkish authorities believe led a 15-man ‘kill team’ to Istanbul to murder Khashoggi.
Trump’s lukewarm response to the killing has been criticized by lawmakers in the US Republican Senator Rand Paul said that Trump should suspend the US’ arms deal with Riyadh, and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a close ally of Trump, also said on Sunday that he considers The Crown Prince personally responsible for Khashoggi’s death.
"They are an important ally but when it comes to the Crown Prince, he's irrational, he's unhinged and I think he's done a lot of damage to the relationship (between) the United States and Saudi Arabia. And I have no intention of working with him ever again," he told NBC.
In his statement on Tuesday, Trump said that he understands “there are members of Congress who, for political or other reasons, would like to go in a different direction- and they are free to do so.”
Trump said that while he will “consider whatever ideas” presented to him, he is unlikely to take any steps to shake up his relationship with the Kingdom.
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