Saudi King Salman steps in as Riyadh defends itself in Khashoggi case


Saudi Arabia government pledges ‘greater action’ if US retaliates for Khashoggi disappearance

A coming report from Saudi Arabia will admit that Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and Saudi citizen who disappeared while at the nation's consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, earlier this month, died in an "interrogation gone wrong", a report said.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Mr Trump was sending Mr Pompeo to Riyadh because "determining what happened to Jamal Khashoggi is something of great importance to the President".

The White House is brushing aside threats by Saudi Arabia that it may economically retaliate for any US punitive action imposed over the suspected killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, pledging a "swift, open, transparent investigation" into his disappearance.

Joe Lieberman, a former Democratic senator from CT who became an independent, said the disappearance and suspected murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi are "troubling", but until facts are established, the United States shouldn't destroy its relationship with Saudi Arabia.

Turkish officials say they believe a 15-member Saudi "assassination squad" killed Mr Khashoggi at the consulate.

Trump said Monday the Saudis told him they're working closely with Turkey to find an answer.

The political fallout of the disappearance and possible death of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi has continued to reverberate around world, casting a cloud on a major investment conference aimed at promoting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's plans for the kingdom.

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US President Donald Trump told reporters Monday that he was aware of the report but did not know if it was correct. The foreign ministers of Germany, France and the United Kingdom, also on Sunday, demanded that Saudi Arabia allow a complete and full investigation.

But Trump, who has frequently boasted about his business ties with the kingdom, suggested during the CBS interview that ending USA arms sales to Saudi Arabia would not be an option, saying, "I don't want to hurt jobs". Germany, France and Britain also jointly called for a "credible investigation".

In protest of Khashoggi's disappearance, several US businesses leaders have pulled out of next week's Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, dubbed "Davos in the Desert", after the annual meeting of world economic interests in Switzerland.

Aleksandar Mitreski, a security and defence analyst, said Saudi Arabia cannot control the global narrative but can try to alleviate the most damaging fallout.

Other executives such as Ford Motor Chairman Bill Ford and Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi also won't attend the conference, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The crown prince, ambitious, aggressive and just 33 in a kingdom long ruled by aging monarchs, has considerable weight in Saudi government actions.

"Together we must prove we will not be bullied or else, mark my words, once they have finished kicking the kingdom, we will be next in line", al-Habtoor said.

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