In Depth

US ‘stands with Saudi allies’ despite Khashoggi killing, says Trump

US president issues lengthy statement defending his stance on murder of dissident journalist

Donald Trump has issued a lengthy statement, outlining that the US “intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia”, despite the acknowledged killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi operatives in Istanbul.

Trump’s statement follows reports on Friday in the Washington Post that the CIA “has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination”.

However, Trump appeared to cast doubt on those reports, and sought to downplay the Crown Prince’s alleged involvement in the killing of Khashoggi, which Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir has admitted was a “tremendous mistake”.

“It could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event,” Trump said in the statement, adding: “Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”

The Times reports that in making the statement, Trump has “placed the stability of US-Saudi relations above the murder”, citing a trade and investment agreements between the Kingdom and the US worth around £350 billion.

That includes an £86 billion deal to purchase military equipment, which Trump says the US would be “foolish” to cancel as “Russia and China would be the enormous beneficiaries”, saying they would be “very happy to acquire all of this newfound business”.

Trump also pointed out that Saudi Arabia is “the largest oil producing nation in the world”, adding that the Kingdom has been “very responsive to my requests to keeping oil prices at reasonable levels”.

Reaction to the statement was swift, with both Democrats and Republicans speaking out against Trump’s assertion that Saudi Arabia remains a “great ally” of the United States.

“‘Great allies’ don’t plot the murder of journalists, Mr. President. ‘Great allies’ don’t lure their own citizens into a trap, then kill them,” Republican senator Jeff Flake wrote on Twitter.

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