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Trump 'unsatisfied' with Saudi response Khashoggi killing

US President DOnald Trump has come under pressure over his dealings with Riyadh [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 October, 2018

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US President Donald Trump has said he wants to 'get the answer' about Jamal Khashoggi's killing following Riyadh's acknowledgement that the journalist was dispatched at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

US President Donald Trump said on Saturday he was not satisfied with Saudi Arabia's response to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but cautioned against scrapping a multi-billion dollar weapons deal with Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia admitted after weeks of denial that Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi embassy in Istanbul, however, claimed that the 59-year-old had died in an altercation. Riyadh has provided no details about where Khashoggi's body is. 

"It was a big first step. It was a good first step," Trump said of the move.

"But I want to get to the answer."

Since Riyadh's admission on Saturday, 18 Saudi nationals have been arrested in connection with Khashoggi's death and two top aides of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as well as three other intelligence agents, have been sacked.

Meanwhile, Turkish officials have accused Saudi Arabia of carrying out a state-sponsored killing and dismembering Khashoggi's body. The conflicting narratives have piled pressure on Washington, which is seeking to maintain good business relations with its key Arab ally.

"We have $450 billion, $110 billion of which is a military order, but this is equipment and various things ordered from Saudi Arabia," Trump told reporters about an agreement to sell weapons to Riyadh.

"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," he added, noting Riyadh could obtain the weapons from other countries like China or Russia.

"But there are other things that could be done, including sanctions."

The controversy over Khashoggi's death has evolved into a major crisis for Saudi Arabia and its de-facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed, a Trump administration favourite widely known as MBS whose image as a modernising Arab reformer has been gravely undermined.

Since taking charge of several key areas of Saudi policy, Prince Mohammed has spearheaded a devastating war in Yemen, led a regional boycott of fellow Gulf Cooperation Council state Qatar, and carried out sweeping arrests of critics and rivals to his power.

In recent days, King Salman has been seen taking a more active role in the running of the kingdom, including by ordering the sacking of two of his heir's key aides.

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