Published: Mon, October 15, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Saudis Rebuff Trump Threat of Sanctions for Missing Journalist

Saudis Rebuff Trump Threat of Sanctions for Missing Journalist

"I think we would've known by now".

"A lot of people are looking to find out because it is potentially a really, really awful situation", the president added with reference to the journalist's possible murder.

A second US official said there were also current holds in place on training sales for the Saudi government.

King Salman phoned Erdogan Sunday evening "to thank the president for welcoming the kingdom's proposal to form a joint working group" to discuss the disappearance, the Saudi foreign ministry said.

President Tayyip Erdogan has previously said that Turkey could not remain silent over Khashoggi's disappearance and called on officials at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to prove he had left the building.

Turkish officials have said they believe Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate and lurid claims have been leaked to media that he was tortured and even dismembered, but Saudi Arabia insists he left the building safely. Whatever took place, Corker said, "there was Saudi involvement" and "everything points to them".

Trump has taken a cautious position, threatening "severe punishment" should proof emerge of Saudi guilt, but insisting that he will not risk billions of dollars in deals to sell USA weapons to the kingdom, a strategic ally in the tinder box Middle East.

Pro-government Turkish newspaper Sabah said the search of the consulate had not yet happened because Saudi officials would only allow a superficial "visual" probe. Saudi Arabia calls the allegations "baseless", but has offered no explanation for Khashoggi's whereabouts.

The principal fear among these circles is that the brazen display of savagery in the Khashoggi case will hamper their efforts to cloak their imperialist goals in the Middle East and elsewhere behind concern for "human rights" and "democracy".

But Whitson said that "given that Saudi Arabia will not provide any evidence about Khashoggi's movements in and out of the consulate, they can not be trusted to conduct a genuine - far less effective - investigation".

The statement went on to say that Saudi Arabia is "committed to its principles, rules and traditions and is in compliance with global laws and conventions".

"The kingdom affirms its total rejection of any threats or attempts to undermine it whether through threats to impose economic sanctions or the use of political pressure", an official source said, quoted by state news agency SPA. "There's something - you'll be surprised to hear me say that - there's something really bad and disgusting about that if that was the case so we're going to have to see".

Virgin Group founder Richard Branson has joined such prominent Western business leaders as technology investor Steve Case and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi in backing away from projects with Saudi Arabia after the disappearance and alleged killing of journalist Jamal Kashoggi.

The Washington Post, where Khashoggi was a columnist before his ill-fated journey to Istanbul last week, reported that the recordings were in the hands of Turkish officials.

There is no set date for how long the meetings will take, but "very quick results need to be seen", the source said. "And, maybe especially so because this man was a reporter".

Khashoggi, who was considered close to the Saudi royal family, had become a critic of the current government and Prince Mohammed, the 33-year-old heir apparent who has shown little tolerance for criticism.

A key US lawmaker, Republican Senator Marco Rubio, told CNN on Sunday that if Saudi agents "went medieval" on Khashoggi, "that would be an outrage".

Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary of key Saudi ally and trade partner, Britain, warned there would be "serious consequences" if the allegations were true.

The US, where Khashoggi lived and worked in recent years, is also keen on solving his disappearance.

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