Arab states hail Saudi explanation on Khashoggi killing

Tuesday, 23 Oct, 2018

President Trump said Saudi Arabia's announcement that suspects were in custody marked a "good first step", though some USA lawmakers on both sides of the aisle hav said Saudi Arabia's account isn't credible and seems created to exonerate Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of any involvement despite widespread allegations that he was behind the killing.

The kingdom's weeks of denial and lack of credible evidence in the face of allegations by Turkey from the start that Khashoggi had been killed have shaken global confidence in ties with the world's top oil exporter, Western governments say.

Britain, France and Germany have urged Saudi Arabia to provide "credible" facts for its explanation about the killing of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul.

The Saudi foreign minister offered his condolences to the family of Khashoggi and said the death was a "tremendous mistake".

The statement said Riyadh "has always reviewed any mistake that may occur from one of its institutions and work to address it immediately and take the necessary actions and bring perpetrators to accountability as what happened in this incident [the killing of Khashoggi]".

Amid calls across the world for arms embargos against Saudi Arabia, US President Donald Trump has said his country would be "punishing itself" if it halted weapons sales to the country. He also said that once the investigation is over and those responsible are punished, he predicts the US-Saudi relationship will "weather" this.

"Second, there is an urgent need to clarify what happened - we are far from this having been cleared up and those responsible held to account".

For Saudi Arabia's allies, the question will be whether they believe that the Crown Prince, who has painted himself as a reformer, has any culpability. "They can undergo their own investigation, but the US administration must make its own independent, credible determination of responsibility for Khashoggi's murder under the Global Magnitsky investigation as required by law".

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and top government figures have remained cautious in their public statements, stopping short of pinning the blame on Saudi Arabia and referring instead to the prosecutors' investigation. "We haven't reached that point", the president said.

"I would respectfully urge members of Congress to wait until they have the facts and then judge the results of the facts and take positions then", he said. He also said he will talk soon to Prince Mohammed.

The CEO of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group's banking arm will not attend the Future Investment Initiative conference in Saudi Arabia, the group said on Sunday, joining a growing list of business executives to withdraw over concern about the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

"The Saudi "explanation" for murdering journalist and Virginia resident Jamal Khashoggi in a consulate - a fistfight gone wrong - is insulting", tweeted Senator Tim Kaine, the 2016 Democratic vice presidential nominee.

Khashoggi was ushered into the consul general's office where an operative named Maher Mutreb spoke to him about returning to Saudi Arabia, according to the government's account.

"All the 15 team members are among those detained", the official said.

Mutreb replied, "Yes, we will drug you and kidnap you", in what the official said was an attempt at intimidation that violated the mission's objective.