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Trump opposes halting Saudi arms deal after journalist death

By PTI Updated: Oct 21, 2018 11:00 pm

Elko (US), Oct. 21 (PTI/AFP): US President Donald Trump has warned against halting a Saudi arms deal, saying it would hurt American jobs, despite the international furor over the death in the conservative kingdom’s Istanbul consulate of a dissident journalist.

“We have 450 billion, 110 billion of which is a military order, but this is equipment and various things ordered from Saudi Arabia,” Trump told reporters on Saturday about an agreement to sell weapons to Riyadh.

“It’s over a million jobs; that’s not helpful for us to cancel an order like that. That hurts us far more than it hurts them,” he added, noting Riyadh could obtain the weapons from other countries like China or Russia.

“But there are other things that could be done, including sanctions.” Saudi Arabia has admitted that critic Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside its Istanbul consulate after an physical altercation, in a major dialing back of two weeks of denials, but the whereabouts of his body remain unclear.

Turkish officials have accused Riyadh of carrying out a state-sponsored killing and dismembering the body, which police have begun hunting for in an Istanbul forest.

Trump has said he found the explanation credible despite continued skepticism from some US lawmakers, including Republicans.

“It was a big first step. It was a good first step. But I want to get to the answer,” Trump said of Saudi’s acknowledgement that Khashoggi had died.

Trump has said that Saudi Arabia is valued as a historic customer for the US weapons industry, and that the US also relies on the kingdom in the fight against terror.

But the controversy over Khashoggi’s death has evolved into a major crisis for Crown Prince Mohammed, a Trump administration favourite widely known as MBS whose image as a modernizing Arab reformer has been gravely undermined.

By PTI Updated: Oct 21, 2018 11:00:19 pm