France Hits 18 Saudis with Sanctions over Khashoggi Murder

Jamal Khashoggi: Trump suggests 'the world' is to blame for journalist's death

Trump, in an unusual statement laden with exclamation points, signaled that the USA will not take strong action against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - despite the CIA's belief that he personally ordered the killing of Khashoggi.

Trump has denied a report in The Washington Post that the CIA concluded that Mohammed ordered Khashoggi's assassination, saying instead that intelligence officials just "have feelings about certain things". "We're looking at the program".

The diplomat was apparently reacting to the United States leadership's repeated refusal to assume that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman might have ordered the murder of the WaPo columnist.

Speaking to reporters, the U.S. president said he did not know who was behind it but cited "vehement" denials by the crown prince and the Saudi king. Saudi Arabia's annual gross domestic product has been below $700 billion in each of the last three years.

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While overall data is not available, the office of the U.S. Trade Representative reports that "Saudi Arabia's direct investment in the U.S.is led by real estate, information services, and retail trade".

Turkish news channel Haber quoted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying yesterday that he would not meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman during a visit to Argentina for the G20 summit.

Jubeir insisted that Prince Mohammed had not been involved in the killing.

Riyadh has come under increased worldwide pressure after the killing of Washington Post contributor Khashoggi in its Istanbul consulate on October 2.

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Another prominent Republican, Senator Rand Paul, added "Let's put America first, not Saudi Arabia", while Khashoggi's old employer the Post said in an editorial that Trump's position meant "a world where dictators know they can murder their critics and suffer no consequences".

'Frankly, ' he continued, 'if we went by this standard, we wouldn't be able to have anybody who's an ally, because look at what happens all over the world'.

"The real facts are: 1) the Saudis need US weapons and equipment more than we need to sell them, in part because they demonstrate the US security commitment to the kingdom; and 2) it would be very hard and expensive for the Saudis to make good on their periodic threats to "buy foreign" if they can't get what they want from the United States", said former US Middle East negotiator Aaron David Miller in an article for CNN co-authored by Richard Sokolsky.

Trump has defended his stance toward Saudi Arabia, a key USA ally in the Middle East, citing US arms deals with Riyadh and the larger USA strategy toward Iran. "Yet the same time I say it, it is very important for the stability of the world, for the region and for the world, that Saudi Arabia remains stable". Saudi Arabia is now seeking the death penalty for five of those accused in the killing.

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