Saudis Rebuff Trump Threat of Sanctions for Missing Journalist

Monday, 15 Oct, 2018

According to the kingdom's official SPA news agency, Riyadh said it would retaliate in case any possible economic sanctions were adopted by other states over the case of Khashoggi in what has been seen as an allusion to calls on the U.S. administration to revoke its hefty arms deals with Saudi Arabia.

The kingdom will respond to any measure against it with bigger measures, the source said, adding: "The Saudi economy has vital and influential roles for the global economy".

Separately, sources inside Saudi Arabia said that any punitive measures directed its way would generate larger counter-measures.

Accounts say Khashoggi turned on the sound recording capability on his device as he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

Foreign capital is key to Saudi Arabia's plans to diversify its economy beyond oil and cut a 12.9 percent jobless rate among its citizens.

A joint statement of condemnation, if it is confirmed that Mr Khashoggi was killed by Saudi agents, is also being discussed by U.S. and European diplomats.

The men stayed at the consulate for a few hours and then took flights back to Saudi Arabia. The U.S. has called for an investigation.

Early on Saturday, the state-run Saudi Press Agency published a statement from Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud again denying the kingdom's involvement.

Saudi insists Khashoggi, who entered the consulate for paperwork for his marriage to his Turkish fiancee, left the building safely but has yet to offer visual evidence of this.

"They demanded for what they called a "credible investigation" to establish the truth about what happened to Jamal Khashoggi and to identify those responsible for his disappearance".

The Saudi delegation was in Turkey, due to have talks this weekend in Ankara and take part in a working group on the disappearance whose creation was announced by Erdogan's spokesman, official Turkish media said.

But Trump, who has frequently boasted about his business ties with the kingdom, suggested during the interview that ending USA arms sales to Saudi Arabia would not be an option, saying, "I don't want to hurt jobs".

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin this month is scheduled attend the event in Riyadh known as "Davos in the Desert", even as corporate leaders are pulling out over concerns about the fate of Mr. Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi regime.

Saudi stocks dropped as much as 7 per cent, the most since 2014, on concerns that relations with the U.S. may sour, before trimming losses to close 3.5 per cent down.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has joined a bipartisan group of senators who are urging President Donald Trump to investigate Khashoggi's disappearance.

The CEOs must strike a balance between "the reputational risk they run by being associated with what seems to be very disturbing developments" and "their long-term business interest" in Saudi Arabia, according to Richard LeBaron, a former USA ambassador to Kuwait who is now non-resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. Otherwise, the USA risks losing credibility when it comes to human rights, he told CBS' Face the Nation on Sunday.