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Trump vows 'severe punishment' if Saudi behind Khashoggi case

October 14, 2018 10:17 IST

IMAGE: Human rights activists and friends of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi hold his pictures during a protest outside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Photograph: Murad Sezer/Reuters

United States President Donald Trump has warned Saudi Arabia of 'severe punishment' if it is responsible for the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who is feared killed, that has resulted in global outrage against the kingdom.

Trump, in an interview to CBS News, said the Saudis could be behind the disappearance of Washington Post contributor Khashoggi.


The Saudi journalist has been missing since he entered the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul on October 2, and Turkish officials have accused Riyadh of murdering him inside the diplomatic mission.

Trump said Saudi Arabia has denied 'in every way you can imagine' having anything to do with Khashoggi's disappearance.

"We're going to get to the bottom of it and there will be severe punishment," Trump said, according to an extract of the interview released on Saturday.

"As of this moment, they deny it and they deny it vehemently. Could it be them? Yes," Trump said in the interview, which was conducted on Thursday, when asked if Khashoggi was murdered by Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia may still be responsible, and an investigation is ongoing, he said.

"There is a lot at stake and maybe especially so because this man was a reporter. There's something -- you'll be surprised to hear me say that -- there's something really terrible and disgusting about that if that was the case," Trump said.

Trump, however, said on Sunday that he is against cancelling the $110 billion mega arms deal with Saudi Arabia as this will hurt America's economy and jobs.

Trump told reporters that he is trying to get at the bottom of the issue and has sought details of it from Saudi Arabia.

Trump said that he plans to call the Saudi King on this issue.

"I will be also calling King Salman of Saudi Arabia, because I think it's appropriate for me to ask him what is going on,” he said.

He, however, said that he is against cancelling the $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia because of this.

Such a move, he asserted, would have an impact on jobs in the US. In addition, countries such as Russia and China are ready to supply them with the necessary arms, if the US backs off.

But he has not made any final determination in this regard, he said.

"We'll be sitting together with all of the folks here, and a lot more. We'll have to make a determination. I do think this: That I worked very hard to get the order for the military.

"It's $110 billion. I believe it's the largest order ever made. It's 450,000 jobs. It's the best equipment in the world. But if they don't buy it from us, they're going to buy it from Russia or they're going to buy it from China, or they're going to buy it from other countries," he said.

"Russia and China wanted it very badly...I would -- from the standpoint of jobs, economic development, a lot of other reasons, I would like to do something where we could maybe look at other things, because that's a tremendous order for our companies.

"It's a tremendous order from an economic development standpoint,” Trump said.

In addition to the $110 billion arms deal, Trump said the Saudis are going to invest $450 billion in the US through their companies.

"And all of these -- Raytheon, and General Electric, and General Motors -- they were there getting contracts for $25 billion, $30 billion, $40 billion. Nobody has ever seen anything like it,” he said.

And this was the reason for him to make the first overseas trip to Saudi Arabia last year, he said.

Lalit K Jha in Washington, DC
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