Washington: US President Donald Trump has said he is “not satisfied” with Saudi Arabia’s account of the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but asserted that he would not like to scrap an $110 billion arms deal with Riyadh despite a global outrage over the dissident scribe’s brutal killing.
Saudi Arabia in a statement on Saturday said Khashoggi (60) died following a “fistfight” at its consulate in Istanbul on October 2, without disclosing any details on the whereabouts of his body. Turkish officials believe Khashoggi — a critic of the Saudi government — was murdered and his body dismembered.
“I’m not satisfied until we find the answer,” Trump said, adding sanctions were a possibility, but halting an arms deal would “hurt us more than it would hurt them”. “It is something that we don’t like. It’s very serious stuff. And we’re going to get to the bottom of it and will make that determination,” Trump told reporters in Nevada on Saturday.
Trump said it was “possible” the powerful Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman did not know about the killing. His comment came when asked about his previous statement he would be considering severe consequences for Saudi Arabia following the journalist’s death. Trump added the Congress would have a role to play in it. “We’ll have very much Congress involved in determining what to do,” he said.
Responding to a question, the US President indicated he would let the Congressmen take lead on the issue of particularly determining the action that needs to be taken against Saudi Arabia. However, he insisted that he would not like to scrap the mega arms and investment deal with Saudi Arabia as this would impact jobs in the US.
“We have $450 billion, $110 billion of which is a military order, but this is equipment and various things ordered from Saudi Arabia,” Trump said. “It’s over a million jobs; that’s not helpful for us to cancel an order like that. That hurts us far more than it hurts them… but there are other things that could be done, including sanctions.”
The President said he is also speaking with states where jobs could be impacted. “Could be. Could be. We’re going to find out. We’re going to find out who know what, where and we’ll figure it out,” he said, indicating that things might be clearer by Monday. “I might know a lot by Monday. I know a lot already. We’re going to know over the next two or three days, we’re going to know a lot. We’re getting a lot of information in as we speak,” he said.