Trump unsatisfied with Saudi response to journalist death, backs arms deal
ELKO – Agence France-Presse
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Oct. 20 he was not satisfied with Saudi Arabia's response to a dissident journalist's death, but warned against scrapping a multibillion-dollar deal with the conservative kingdom.
Saudi Arabia has admitted that critic Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside its Istanbul consulate after a physical altercation, in a major dialing back of two weeks of denials, but the whereabouts of his body remain unclear.
"It was a big first step. It was a good first step," Trump said of the move. "But I want to get to the answer."
"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."
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 U.S. lawmakers, including Republicans.
But the controversy over Khashoggi's death has blown up into a major crisis for Crown Prince Mohammed, a Trump administration favorite widely known as MBS whose image as a modernizing Arab reformer has been gravely undermined.