The Latest: Trump says not enough evidence to blame prince
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the fallout from the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi (all times local):
President Donald Trump is insisting there’s not enough evidence to blame Saudi Arabia’s crown prince for the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi (jah-MAHL’ khahr-SHOHK’-jee) at a Saudi Consulate in Turkey.
Trump told reporters during a Thanksgiving appearance at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida: “Maybe the world should be held accountable ’cause the world is a vicious place.”
Saudi prosecutors have said a 15-man team sent to Istanbul killed Khashoggi with tranquilizers.
Trump pushed back on the idea his refusal to punish the Saudis more will embolden other governments to go after journalists and commit other human rights abuses. Trump calls the kingdom an important ally that has helped to lower oil prices.
Republicans and Democrats have accused Trump of ignoring U.S. intelligence that concluded it was likely the crown prince ordered the killing. Trump says the CIA’s report was inclusive.
Finland has joined others in halting exports of military equipment to Saudi Arabia, mainly because of the war in Yemen.
In Thursday’s statement, Finland said it also was stopping exports to the United Arab Emirates, saying the halt to both countries came because of “the alarming humanitarian situation in Yemen.”
The Nordic country said it was “complying with the European Union’s arms export criteria, which take particular account of human rights and the protection of regional peace, security and stability.”
No figures were immediately as to Finland’s arms exports to the two countries.
Earlier Thursday, Denmark said it was stopping military exports, citing “the continued worsening of the already terrible situation in Yemen and the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.”
A senior Turkish official has raised the possibility that Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan (REH’-jehp TY’-ihp UR’-doh-wahn), could meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the upcoming Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires later this month.
Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin was asked on Thursday whether the two could meet at the two-day G-20 summit, which starts Nov. 30, that “we are looking at the schedule, it is possible.”
His remarks were carried by the state-run Anadolu Agency.
It would be the first official contact between the prince and Erdogan, who has kept international pressure mounting on Saudi Arabia over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last month.
Turkey insists that the killing of the journalist, who was a critic of the prince, was ordered by the high-levels of the Saudi government, but not by King Salman. Experts say such an operation is unlikely to have occurred without the knowledge of the crown prince, who controls all major levers of power in the kingdom.
Denmark is halting exports of military equipment to Saudi Arabia, citing “the continued worsening of the already terrible situation in Yemen and the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.”
Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen said the kingdom “right now is simply destructive in many fields.” He spoke in a live television interview on Thursday.
Samuelsen says he hoped “the Danish decision can create further momentum and get more European Union countries to support tight implementation of the EU’s regulatory framework in this area.”
The ban would also include so-called dual-use exports of items that can be used both for military and civilian purposes.
In 2017, Denmark’s overall exports to Saudi Arabia were of 5.08 billion kroner ($763 million), according to the Danish Chamber of Commerce.
President Donald Trump’s embrace of Saudi Arabia has exposed a foreign policy rift in the Republican Party, as some of his GOP colleagues warn that not punishing the kingdom for its role in killing a U.S.-based columnist will have dangerous consequences.
Many Republicans — even Sens. Lindsey Graham and Rand Paul, who share their views on the matter with the president — have denounced Trump’s decision not to levy harsher penalties on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the death and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
Sen. Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the influential Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on Wednesday that he was “astounded” by Trump’s statement and likened it to a press release for Saudi Arabia.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended Trump’s decision, saying the U.S. has already placed sanctions on 17 Saudi officials suspected of involvement in the Oct. 2 killing of The Washington Post columnist, who had been critical of the royal family.