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Khashoggi disappearance a serious problem, will talk to Saudi King: Trump

Khashoggi's disappearance a serious problem

ANI  |  Washington 

Trump
Donald Trump | Photo: Reuters

United States President told reporters on Friday that he will call Saudi King concerning the disappearance of journalist

"I will be calling him, I will be calling at some point King Salman," Trump said on Friday when asked if he has talked to the king about the Khashoggi matter.

Trump stressed that Khashoggi's disappearance is a serious problem and US officials are looking "very hard" to get answers. It is potentially a really terrible situation, he added.

Khashoggi has been missing since October 2, when he visited the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, to obtain documents needed for his upcoming marriage. Turkish authorities have reportedly said Khashoggi was murdered at the consulate, but Saudi Arabia has denied the allegations. On Friday, the Bahraini and United Arab Emirates foreign ministries announced their support for Riyadh, claiming that the accusations are an attempt to defame Saudi Arabia.

According to analysts in US, President Trump is likely to block any sanctions that US Congress may try to impose on Saudi Arabia over missing journalist Khashoggi, although the administration may be forced to take at least symbolic action amid ever burgeoning outrage.

Trump is facing increasing domestic pressure to take action against the Saudis in recent days. US Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker on Thursday requested a Global Magnitsky Act investigation and said Washington should impose sanctions on Saudi officials at the highest levels if they are responsible for the journalist's disappearance.
 

Many other lawmakers have called on Trump to freeze arms sales and end all support for the Saudi-led coalition's war in Yemen because of the incident.

Trump, for his part, told reporters on Friday that he would call the Saudis about the matter because it is "potentially" a really terrible situation. Trump on Thursday, however, said he would not support any move to halt arms sales to the Saudis which generate $110 billion annually for US businesses.

Meanwhile, media reports in United Kingdom claimed that the UK Foreign Office is drawing up a list of Saudi security and government officials on whom sanctions might be imposed pending the results of the probe into the high-profile disappearance of journalist Khashoggi.

The list could be used if London decided to resort to the so-called Magnitsky amendment which allowed the United Kingdom to introduce sanctions against foreign officials accused of human rights violations, the Independent newspaper reported, citing a source close to both Riyadh and London, on Friday.

"Instructions were given to Treasury and to identify potential targets for sanctions if it is necessary, which I now am told has geared up considerably in the past 48 hours," the source, who is a former government adviser briefed on the matter by a UK intelligence official and others, said.

The source added that the idea to draw up a Saudi sanctions list initially was a "position-paper scenario" but it was subsequently being looked at as a real possibility.

Khashoggi, known for his criticism of Saudi Arabia's policies, has recently been working for the US Washington Post newspaper. The journalist went missing in Turkey on October 2. According to his fiancee, Khashoggi was invited to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul but never left the diplomatic mission's building.

First Published: Sat, October 13 2018. 16:25 IST
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