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IPFS News Link • Saudi Arabia

Trump gives Saudi Arabia benefit of doubt in journalist's disappearance

• Reuters

"I think we have to find out what happened first," Trump told the Associated Press in an interview on Tuesday. "Here we go again with, you know, you're guilty until proven innocent. I don't like that."

Trump then referred directly to his nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ran into trouble in the Senate after several women came forward to accuse Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, before Kavanaugh was ultimately confirmed.

Earlier, in a Twitter post, Trump said that Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman denied knowing what happened in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where Khashoggi vanished two weeks ago after going there to collect documents he needed for his planned marriage.

Turkish officials have said they believe the Saudi journalist was murdered and his body removed, which the Saudis have strongly denied. Khashoggi was a U.S. resident who wrote columns for the Washington Post and he was critical of the Saudi government, calling for reforms.

"Just spoke with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia who totally denied any knowledge of what took place in their Turkish Consulate," Trump wrote on Twitter. Trump also wrote that the crown prince "told me that he has already started, and will rapidly expand, a full and complete investigation into this matter. Answers will be forthcoming shortly."

How the crown prince, often referred to as MbS, emerges when the dust settles over Khashoggi's disappearance is a test of how the West will deal with Saudi Arabia in the future. At issue will be to what extent the West believes responsibility lies with MbS for Khashoggi.

MbS, who has enjoyed a close relationship with the Trump administration, painted himself as the face of a new, vibrant Saudi Arabia, diversifying its economy away from reliance on oil and making some social changes.


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