Saudis said ready to concede writer was slain in botched interrogation

Gladys Abbott
October 16, 2018

On Monday afternoon, CNN drew a similar picture of the Saudis' impending response, reporting that Riyadh would "acknowledge Jamal Khashoggi's death was the result of an interrogation that went wrong, one that was meant to lead to his abduction from Turkey". "The report is intended, per CNN, to absolve the Saudi government of responsibility for the murder by claiming the operation was not cleared", the new report said.

President Donald Trump told reporters Monday that he was aware of the report but did not know if it was correct.

Joe Lieberman, a former Democratic senator from CT who became an independent, said the disappearance and suspected murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi are "troubling", but until facts are established, the United States shouldn't destroy its relationship with Saudi Arabia.

Since self-exiled Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi walked into the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul this month and vanished, his case has sparked global intrigue and outrage and put leaders of his homeland on the defensive.

On Saturday, Mr Trump threatened Saudi Arabia with "severe punishment" if it emerged that Mr Khashoggi had been killed inside the consulate but ruled out halting big military contracts with Riyadh.

Turkish officials have said they believe he was killed and dismembered while visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul about two weeks ago.

However, given the close political and economic links between the United States and Saudi Arabia it remains unclear what action he could take. Trump said the king told him on Monday that the two countries were working very closely on the case. But he said the royal court would soon put out a narrative that an official within the kingdom's intelligence services - who happened to be a friend of Prince Mohammed - had carried out the killing.

Meanwhile, more major players in worldwide finance and industry are pulling out of a high-profile business conference in Saudi Arabia.

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While organizers said Monday the conference will go on, the Saudis cancelled an annual diplomatic reception in Washington set for later this week.

Appearing on the progressive SiriusXM daily talk show Signal Boost, the House Speaker questioned why Trump's first major overseas trip as president was a visit to Saudi Arabia. Trump is sending Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet with the king on the issue.

Prince Mohammed, King Salman's son, has aggressively pitched the kingdom as a destination for foreign investment.

Turkish sources allege he was killed by a 15-strong team of Saudi agents, but Riyadh insists that he left the consulate unharmed.

But the president has also said "we would be punishing ourselves" by canceling arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

"I don't think there is really any appetite to dive back in (to stocks), and the Saudi situation is just another ball for investors to have to juggle", said CMC Markets' senior analyst Michael Hewson.

Bahrain called for a boycott of Uber, in which PIF has invested $3.5 billion, after its chief executive officer said he would not attend the conference.

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