United States President Donald Trump on Saturday said he was “extremely angry” about the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi but claimed nobody had “pointed a finger” at the kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, AFP reported.
Trump did not mention Khashoggi during a photo op with Salman before their meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in the Japanese city of Osaka, and ignored questions from reporters. In brief remarks, the US president said it was a “great honour” to be with Salman and said “Saudi Arabia is a good purchaser of American products,” The Washington Post reported. Khashoggi, a columnist for the newspaper was killed in October at the Saudi consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul, by men that Riyadh claims are rogue operatives.
“I have have spoke to his father at great length,” Trump said, referring to King Salman. “They have been a terrific ally. They are creating millions of jobs in this country. They have taken it very, very seriously. They will continue to. I let everybody know I am very unhappy about that whole event.”
Trump told the crown prince he had done “a spectacular job”, and referred to him as “a friend of mine”, according to AFP.
Last week, Trump dismissed the United Nations’ request for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to look into the murder of Khashoggi. Agnes Callamard, the special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, has published a 100-page analysis of the journalist’s assassination by Saudi officials, which she called “an international crime”.
Salman, the de-facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, is widely suspected of having ordered the assassination. Even Western intelligence agencies reached a similar conclusion. “Assessments of the recordings by intelligence officers in Turkey and other countries suggest that Mr Khashoggi could have been injected with a sedative and then suffocated using a plastic bag,” the special rapporteur said in her report.
In February, The New York Times had reported that Mohammed bin Salman told a top aide in 2017 that he would use “a bullet” on the self-exiled journalist if he did not return to the kingdom and stop criticising the Saudi government.
Saudi Arabia has repeatedly denied Salman’s involvement in the murder, and in December 2018, condemned a United States Senate resolution accusing him of ordering the killing of the journalist.