Trump, Pompeo still defending Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi

Trump Speaks to Saudi King, Sends Pompeo for Follow-Up

"We have lots of important relationships - financial relationships between USA and Saudi companies, governmental relationships, . the efforts to reduce the risk to the United States of America from the world's largest state sponsor of terror, Iran", he said.

Saudi Arabia has pulled its $1 billion investment in Virgin Hyperloop One in response to the company joining droves of others who pulled out of the Kingdom's Future Investment Initiative - colloquially known as "Davos in the Desert" - following the disappearance and possible murder of a naturalized USA citizen and Washington Post columnist, the Financial Times reported Tuesday. The Saudis put the president at odds with other key allies and with some leaders in his Republican Party who have condemned the Saudi leadership for what they say is an obvious role in the case.

When asked if the US would distance itself from Saudi Arabia over the Khashoggi case, Trump said, "I do not want to do that and frankly they have a tremendous order, $110 billion", referring to a promised Saudi purchase of USA -made weaponry in the coming years.

"I hope we're going to be on the better side of the equation", the president said on Fox Business as he stressed the importance Saudi Arabia in a range of issues at the heart of his policies in the Middle East. We got all of it.

The image in the West of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has reportedly been damaged.

President Trump wrote: "He was with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.during the call, and told me that he has already started, and will rapidly expand, a full and complete investigation into this matter".

I think, in this instance, there's probably less of a financial tie and more of just a very complicated situation, which is to say the United States has considered Saudi Arabia an ally, leverages that ally in many ways, financial being one of them, whether it's weapon sales or, perhaps more importantly, oil and oil prices, and lots of other things, in some cases even related to our antiterrorism efforts.

In recent months, the crown prince, known by his initials, MBS, ordered an operation to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia from his home in Virginia, according to USA intelligence intercepts of Saudi officials discussing the plan.

Journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen and permanent USA resident, disappeared on October 2, 2018.

More news: HURRICANE LESLIE: Spain on full alert as tropical storm sweeps country TODAY

He has not been seen since he stepped inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. Saudi Arabia has denied the allegations, but provided no evidence he left the consulate.

A team of a dozen police and prosecutors, including forensics experts in white overalls, entered the residence of Mohammed al-Otaibi, a day after he flew out of Istanbul for Riyadh.

Whether Trump demands a genuine investigation or helps his Saudi friends bury an apparent horror will be one of the most telling and consequential acts of his presidency.

Turkey has not shared with the USA government or European allies graphic audio or video evidence, seven US and European security officials told Reuters. It was the second-such extraordinary search of land considered under global law to be Saudi sovereign soil after Turkish police searched the consulate through the early morning on Tuesday.

On Monday, CNN cited two sources as saying the Saudis are preparing a report that Khashoggi's death resulted from a botched interrogation, while The Wall Street Journal said the kingdom was weighing whether to say that rogue operatives killed Khashoggi by mistake.

Saudi officials did not respond to requests for comment for this article. According to the report, his body was later beheaded and dismembered by his killers.

Before leaving Riyadh, Pompeo said the kingdom promised a "transparent investigation".

Pompeo said: "They made a commitment to hold anyone connected to any wrongdoing that may be found accountable for that, whether they are a senior officer or official".

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