Jamal Khashoggi murder: Donald Trump says no new punishment for Saudi Arabia

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – US President Donald Trump’s decision, announced in a statement released just before he left for the long Thanksgiving weekend in Florida, will disappoint and anger critics who have called for a much firmer rebuke to the kingdom and especially bin Salman.

President Donald Trump said Tuesday the US will not punish Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at this time nor cut arms sales to Saudi Arabia for the killing of US-based columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Trump called the killing of Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul a “horrible crime” that the US does not condone, but said Saudi Arabia is a “great ally” and canceling billions in arms sales would only benefit China and Russia, which would be glad to step in and make the sales.

Trump’s decision, announced in a statement released just before he left for the long Thanksgiving weekend in Florida, will disappoint and anger critics who have called for a much firmer rebuke to the kingdom and especially bin Salman.

US intelligence officials have concluded that bin Salman, the kingdom’s de factor leader, ordered the Oct. 2 killing, according to a US official familiar with the assessment. Others familiar with the case caution that while it’s likely that the crown prince had a role in the death there continue to be questions about the degree to which he was involved. The US earlier sanctioned 17 Saudi officials suspected of being responsible for or complicit in the killing, but members of Congress have called for harsher actions.

Trump said Tuesday in his statement that the king of Saudi Arabia and the crown prince “vigorously deny” any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Khashoggi.

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