Trump 'will meet with Saudi Crown Prince' amid Khashoggi killing controversy

The president says Saudi Arabia will not be punished for journalist's death

Clark Mindock
New York
Wednesday 21 November 2018 01:29 GMT
Trump on keeping partnership with Saudis: 'We are not going to give up hundreds of billions of dollars in orders and let Russia, China, everybody else have them... It's America first'

President Donald Trump says he would meet with Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammad bin Salman at the G20 meeting in Argentina next month if he attends, despite American intelligence reports indicating the Arab leader likely directed the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Mr Trump made the remarks during an impromptu press conference with reporters outside of the White House, and after the West Wing indicated the president would not seek to punish Mr Salman for the murder. Mr Trump had indicated the US government stood with Saudi Arabia in spite of the killing, which was carried out at a Saudi consulate in Turkey.

“It could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event,” Mr Trump said in a statement. However, he added: “Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”

“In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran,” Mr Trump’s statement read.

The killing of Khashoggi, who resided in the United States and disappeared after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul ahead of his planned wedding, has led to rare bipartisan criticism of the Saudi Arabian government, including its involvement in the bloody war in Yemen.

Meanwhile, the White House has been cautious and has justified not punishing Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi’s death by citing the threat of Iran in the Middle East, and a $110bn arms sales contract that he claims — inaccurately — sustains 500,000 jobs in the US.

The Saudi Arabian government has admitted that Saudi government officials were involved in Khashoggi’s death, and the government’s prosecutor plans on seeking the death penalty for five men involved in the slaying.

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Khashoggi, a Saudi national, was a sharp critic of the government there before his killing.

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