WaPo: Saudi Prince Ordered Operation to Lure Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia

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Speaking to reporters, Trump said he saw no reason to block Saudi purchases of US arms or its investments in the United States despite the journalist's case, saying the Gulf nation would just move its money into Russian Federation and China.

"Frankly I think that would be a very very tough pill to swallow for our country".

"We knew of Jamal's interest in building platforms to promote the discussion of issues that he is passionate about, notably freedom and democracy in the Middle East", he said.

Trump expressed reservations about withholding arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

But in his first extensive remarks about Khashoggi's case, Trump warned it is "a very sad situation".

Saudi Arabia, before going silent in recent days, called the allegation it abducted or harmed Khashoggi "baseless". Reporter 2: "You had mentioned that you spoke with King Salman, so, I mean-"President Donald Trump: "Well, I do anyway, and I've always found him to be a fine man". He also said the USA was working "very closely" with Turkey, "and I think we'll get to the bottom of it".

It's not the first time Paul has brought a resolution to halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

A legal permanent resident of the United States and a contributor to The Washington Post, Khashoggi entered the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul to receive some paperwork on October 2 and never emerged. When asked if he would consider blocking USA arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Trump said that would hurt the United States, citing such deals as a big part of a booming US economy. But Riyadh has not offered any evidence to prove its claim that Khashoggi left the consulate alive, even though his fiancee was waiting outside for him.

Trump did not provide any other details about that report, however, or when he expects it to be completed.

The New York Times reported that Turkish officials believe Kashoggi was killed inside the consulate, at the orders of Saudi Arabia's leadership.

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The most direct call for punishing Riyadh came from Republican Senator Rand Paul, who wrote in a tweet earlier in the day that the Saudi killings of dissidents and opposition journalists won't stop unless the United States stops "arming and assisting" Riyadh.

Trump describes U.S. -Saudi relations as "excellent".

Saudi Arabia has vehemently denied any involvement in his disappearance and insists that Mr Khashoggi left the consulate safely after filing paperwork ahead of his forthcoming marriage to his Turkish fiancée. "President Trump must ask the Saudis to give a full and credible account of what happened to Jamal Khashoggi inside their Istanbul consulate".

A detailed Washington Post report cites flight data and security camera footage surrounding the incident.

Republican Senator Rand Paul also said this week that he would attempt to force a vote in the Senate blocking USA arms sales to Saudi Arabia, if the reports about Khashoggi's disappearance prove true.

Trump declined to say whom he talked with in the Saudi government.

He has also repeatedly assailed Riyadh's role leading the war against Yemen's rebel Houthis, a campaign closely identified with Prince Mohammed that has resulted in thousands of civilian deaths and generated a major humanitarian disaster.

The worldwide implications of Mr Khashoggi's disappearance deepened after the "Washington Post" reported that USA intelligence was aware the Saudi government was planning to kidnap the journalist. "I don't trust them one bit". "If they have the ability and also the audacity to go into another country and kill a journalist, these aren't the kind of people maybe that we want to be selling arms to", he said.

Pro-government Turkish newspapers released late yesterday the identity of 15 Saudi agents that are suspected of carrying out the murder.

Trump expressed reservations over calls to withhold further USA arms sales to Saudi Arabia, saying such a move "would be hurting us".

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