US stands with Saudi Arabia despite Khashoggi murder: Trump


World, Americas

Days after being briefed by the CIA Director, Trump said we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

Trump said in the statement, which started with the sentence that 'the world is a very dangerous place'. (Photo: File)

Washington: President Donald Trump Tuesday signalled that the US will not take strong action against Saudi Arabia or its Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the brutal murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi and intends to remain steadfast partner of Riyadh in the interests of his country, Israel and all other partners in the region.

He, however, said that the US intelligence agencies would continue to assess all information related to the murder and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist.

"King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Khashoggi. Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn't!"

Trump said in a statement, headlined "America First". Days after being briefed by the CIA Director, the US President said we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

"In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran. The US intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region. It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world!"

Trump said in the statement, which started with the sentence that "the world is a very dangerous place". Acknowledging that there were members of Congress who, for political or other reasons, would like to go in a different direction, he said they are free to do so.

"I will consider whatever ideas are presented to me, but only if they are consistent with the absolute security and safety of America," he said. Noting that after the US, Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producing nation in the world, Trump said they have worked closely with America and have been very responsive to my requests to keeping oil prices at reasonable levels – so important for the world.

"As the President of the US, I intend to ensure that, in a very dangerous world, America is pursuing its national interests and vigorously contesting countries that wish to do us harm. Very simply it is called America First!” Trump said.

Trump said the crime against Jamal Khashoggi was a terrible one, and one that US does not condone. "Indeed, we have taken strong action against those already known to have participated in the murder. After great independent research, we now know many details of this horrible crime.

We have already sanctioned 17 Saudis known to have been involved in the murder of Khashoggi, and the disposal of his body," he said.

Trump asserted that representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an "enemy of the state" and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but "my decision is in no way based on that – this is an unacceptable and horrible crime”.

Observing that the world is a dangerous place, Trump said Iran, as an example, is responsible for a bloody proxy war against Saudi Arabia in Yemen, trying to destabilise Iraq's fragile attempt at democracy, supporting the terror group Hezbollah in Lebanon, propping up dictator Bashar Assad in Syria (who has killed millions of his own citizens), and much more.

Likewise, the Iranians have killed many Americans and other innocent people throughout the Middle East. Iran states openly, and with great force, "Death to America!" and "Death to Israel!" Iran is considered "the world's leading sponsor of terror," he alleged.

"On the other hand, Saudi Arabia would gladly withdraw from Yemen if the Iranians would agree to leave. They would immediately provide desperately needed humanitarian assistance. Additionally, Saudi Arabia has agreed to spend billions of dollars in leading the fight against Radical Islamic Terrorism," he said.

Trump said that after his heavily negotiated trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Kingdom agreed to spend and invest USD 450 billion in the US. This is a record amount of money. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous economic development, and much additional wealth for the US. Of the USD 450 billion, USD 110 billion will be spent on the purchase of military equipment from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and many other great US defence contractors.

"If we foolishly cancel these contracts, Russia and China would be the enormous beneficiaries - and very happy to acquire all of this newfound business. It would be a wonderful gift to them directly from the United States!" Trump said.