Sat, Nov 24, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Trump blames ‘vicious’ world for Khashoggi’s death

‘A TERRIBLE THING’:The US president said that the Saudi Arabian crown prince and his father create wealth, while reiterating the importance of keeping the oil price down

AP, WASHINGTON

US President Donald Trump disputed that US intelligence officials had concluded that the de facto leader of American ally Saudi Arabia ordered the killing of a US-based journalist critical of the kingdom’s royal family.

Citing vehement denials by the crown prince and king that they were involved, Trump on Thursday said that “maybe the world should be held accountable because the world is a vicious place. The world is a very, very vicious place.”

Critics in the US Congress and high-ranking officials in other countries are accusing Trump of ignoring human rights and giving Saudi Arabia a pass for economic reasons, including its influence on the world oil market.

Trump this week said that he would not impose harsher penalties on Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman over the death and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul last month.

“My policy is very simple: America first, keep America great again and that’s what I’m doing,” Trump told reporters after a Thanksgiving telephone call with members of the military.

The crown prince and his father, King Salman, said they did not commit “this atrocity,” Trump said. “It’s a terrible thing. I dislike it more than you do, but the fact is ... they create tremendous wealth, really tremendous jobs in their purchases and very importantly, they keep the oil price down.”

US intelligence agencies have concluded that the crown prince ordered the killing in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey, a US official familiar with the assessment said.

The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Others familiar with the case said that while it is likely that the crown prince was involved in the death, questions remain about the extent of his culpability.

Several lawmakers have indicated that the US has no “smoking gun” that proves the crown prince was responsible. They have called on the CIA and other top intelligence agencies to share publicly what they told the president about the slaying.

“I hate the crime,” Trump said while on vacation in Florida. “I hate what’s done. I hate the cover-up and I will tell you this — the crown prince hates it more than I do.”

He said the CIA “points it both ways and as I said, maybe he did, maybe he didn’t, but I will say very strongly that it’s a very important ally and if we go by a certain standard, we won’t be able to have allies with almost any country.”

He also has pushed back on the idea that his refusal to punish the Saudi Arabians more would embolden other governments to go after journalists and commit other human rights abuses.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that the US has imposed sanctions on 17 Saudi Arabian officials suspected of being involved in the killing.

“We’ve sanctioned 17 people — some of them very senior in the Saudi Arabian government,” Pompeo said on Wednesday in a radio interview with KCMO in Kansas City, Missouri. “We are going to make sure that America always stands for human rights.”

Saudi Arabian prosecutors have said a 15-man team sent to Istanbul killed Khashoggi with tranquilizers and dismembered his body, which has not been found.

Those findings came after Saudi Arabian authorities spent weeks denying Khashoggi had been killed in the consulate.

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