US President Donald Trump has again warned that Saudi Arabia will face consequences if it was behind the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi – but he also suggested that Washington will not be axing its arms deal with Riyadh.
When a reporter, employing some lingo previously used by the president, asked Trump what “severe consequences” against Saudi Arabia would entail, the president had a rather vague answer.
“I think it’s too early to say,” he said, while stressing that it’s “very serious stuff” and “something we don’t like” if Riyadh was indeed behind Khashoggi’s murder. He added that Congress would be involved when it came to determining an appropriate response.
However, he once again touted the arms deal between Washington and Riyadh, citing the $450 billion and 600,000 jobs it is bringing into the country, and adding that it would be “very hurtful” to the US if it was dropped.
“I hope we can keep that,” he said.
When asked specifically whether sanctions might be considered, Trump said it was a possibility but declined to commit to implementing them. Instead, he said the US is first going to “find out who knew what, when, and where.”
Trump went on to once-again call Saudi Arabia a “great ally” of the United States. “That’s why this is so sad.”
Khashoggi, a journalist with The Washington Post, was last seen on October 2 when he entered the Saudi embassy in Istanbul. Turkish officials have accused a Saudi assassination squad of murdering and dismembering his body. Riyadh says it is investigating the circumstances of his disappearance.
Trump’s comments come just one day after he stated that it “certainly looks like” Khashoggi is dead, adding that whoever was behind his murder would face “severe consequences.”