WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump has not shown signs of being willing to sanction Saudi Arabia over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying on Thursday that it “would not be acceptable” to suspend arms sales to the kingdom.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump said that there would soon be answers regarding what happened to Khashoggi, who disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 to pick up documents he needed to get married.
The president said that it “would not be acceptable” to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia if Washington determined that Khashoggi, who had been critical of Riyadh, died while in the kingdom’s custody, as his friends and colleagues have claimed.
“I don’t like the concept of stopping an investment of $110 billion into the United States, because you know what they’re going to do. They’re going to take that money and spend it in Russia or China or someplace else,” Trump said.
“I would not be in favor of stopping a country from spending $110 billion – which is an all-time record – and letting Russia have that money and letting China have that money,” the president added.
Trump, however, said “there will be something that has to take place” if Riyadh’s responsibility in the possible death of the journalist is demonstrated.
Khashoggi’s friends and colleagues have said that the journalist was murdered and dismembered inside the consulate, while The Washington Post has claimed that Riyadh planned an operation to lure him into the consulate and arrest him.
On Wednesday, Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) delivered a letter to Trump urging him to impose sanctions on any Saudi official involved in Khashoggi’s death or disappearance.