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First action in Khashoggi 'killing': US to revoke Saudi visas

October 24, 2018 08:56 IST

IMAGE: A member of an activist group participates in a demonstration calling for sanctions against Saudi Arabia while holding a photo of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi outside the US State Department in Washington. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

The United States has announced to revoke visas of Saudi officials allegedly involved in the 'killing' of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, amid an international outrage over the scribe's death.

Saudi Arabia has admitted that Khashoggi, 59, a contributor for The Washington Post, was killed in its Istanbul consulate.

The US will continue to seek all relevant facts, consult the Congress, and work with other nations, to hold accountable those responsible for the killing of Khashoggi, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters.


Given the information, currently, available with the United States, the administration is taking appropriate actions, he said.

The US has identified at least some of the individuals responsible for Khashoggi's death. These include those in the intelligence services, the Royal Court, the Saudi foreign ministry, and other Saudi ministries, Pompeo said.

Khashoggi, a former royal family insider turned critic of the Saudi crown prince, disappeared after he entered the consulate on October 2 to collect a document for his upcoming marriage.

The incident has severely dented the international reputation of the Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

"We are taking appropriate actions, which include revoking visas, entering visa lookouts, and other measures. We are also working with the Treasury Department to review the applicability of Global Magnitsky sanctions to those individuals," Pompeo said.

The Saudis, so far, have said that Khashoggi was killed in a fistfight during an interrogation that went wrong, while Turkey has alleged that he was brutally killed and it was pre-planned.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the 'savage murder' of the journalist was meticulously planned, and demanded that all those linked to the killing face punishment.

On the outrage against Saudi Arabia in the US, Pompeo said these penalties will not be the last word on this matter from the United States.

"We will continue to explore additional measures to hold those responsible accountable. We're making very clear that the United States does not tolerate this kind of ruthless action to silence Mr Khashoggi, a journalist, through violence," he said.

The US, however, continues to maintain a strong partnership with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Saudis staged the 'worst cover-up': Trump

United States President Donald Trump has said Saudi authorities have staged the 'worst ever cover up' in the death of Jamal Khashoggi.

"They (the Saudis) had a very bad original concept. It was carried out poorly. And the cover-up was one of the worst in the history of cover-ups.

"Very simple. Bad deal. Should have never been thought of. Somebody really messed up. And they had the worst cover-up ever," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Tuesday.

Responding to a question on the probe into the death of Khashoggi, the US President said, "And where it should have stopped is at the deal standpoint, what they thought about it. Because whoever thought of that idea, I think, is in big trouble. And they should be in big trouble."

Trump told reporters that Erdogan was pretty tough on Saudi Arabia.

"He was pretty rough on Saudi Arabia, I would say. I haven't gotten a full recap, as you know. I have people in Turkey and I have people in Saudi Arabia and other places, and they're all coming back as we speak, they're heading back," he said.

Central Intelligence Agency Director Gina Haspel is currently in Turkey and is expected to be back soon in the US.

“I'll know, I think, everything in a very short period of time. It's a bad situation. But certainly, president Erdogan was not complimentary of what happened. That was a terrible thing that happened," he said.

Trump reiterated that he does not want to scrap the $110 billion mega arms deal with Saudi Arabia and the total investment of $450 billion from that country, but did not rule out not taking any action against the Saudis.

"I want to see the facts first. Look, Saudi Arabia's been a really great ally. They've been one of the biggest investors, maybe the biggest investor, in our country.

"They are doing hundreds of billions of dollar's worth of investments. And, you know, so many jobs. So many jobs. Thousands and thousands of jobs,” he said.

During his visit to Saudi Arabia in May 2017, Trump signed an agreement with the Saudis for them to purchase USD 110 billion of US weapons, although so far only USD 43 billion of that has been detailed.

“The ultimate number is around $450 billion. I think that's over a million jobs. A million to over a million jobs. So we do that, we're just hurting ourselves. We're just hurting ourselves,” Trump said.

Lalit K Jha in Washington, DC
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