Washington: US President Donald Trump has said it looks like Saudi Arabia’s missing dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead and warned of “very severe” consequences if the kingdom is responsible.
Trump’s remarks came after he was briefed on the investigation by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who returned from a trip to Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
Khashoggi, 60, who has not been seen since entering Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul earlier this month, is feared to have been killed inside the mission. The incident has resulted in a global outrage, more so in the US where he lived as a legal permanent resident and worked for ‘The Washington Post’.
“It certainly looks that way to me. It’s very sad. Certainly, looks that way, Trump told reporters at Joint Air Force base Andrews before boarding Air Force One on his way to Montana for a campaign rally.
This is the first time that the US has officially acknowledged about Khashoggi’s death, who was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Turkish investigators have told local media and also to the US media that Khashoggi was brutally killed inside the consulate on 2 October.
“Well, it’ll have to be very severe. I mean, it’s bad, bad stuff. But we’ll see what happens,” Trump told reporters when asked what would be the consequences of such an unfortunate incident.
The President’s remarks came hours after he had a detailed meeting with Pompeo, who a night earlier arrived from his trip to Saudi Arabia and Turkey, where he talked to them about the missing journalist.
“We are waiting for some investigations, and waiting for the results. We will have them very soon, and I think we’ll be making a statement, a very strong statement. But we’re waiting for the results of about three different investigations, and we should be able to get to the bottom fairly soon,” Trump said.
Trump so far has resisted the call for strong action against Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, several lawmakers led by Congressman Jim McGovern introduced a legislation in the House to prohibit all US arms sales to Saudi Arabia until Secretary of State determines that the Saudi regime is not responsible for the disappearance or death of Khashoggi.
If the Saudi government is found to be culpable in Khashoggi’s disappearance, the legislation prohibits all US military aid and sales to Saudi Arabia until Congress passes a resolution approving such sales.