- France may impose Riyadh sanctions if guilty
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman promised yesterday that the killers of Jamal Khashoggi would be brought to justice, in his first public comments since the journalist’s murder sparked international condemnation.
Prince Mohammed told a major investment conference in Riyadh that Saudi Arabia and Turkey would work together “to reach results” on a joint investigation into the killing. “The incident that happened is very painful, for all Saudis… The incident is not justifiable,” the crown prince said on a discussion panel. “Justice in the end will appear.”
He described cooperation between Riyadh and Ankara as “special” despite fierce criticism from Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his aides.
Hours earlier United States President Donald Trump, in his toughest comments yet, told the Wall Street Journal that the crown prince bore ultimate responsibility for the operation that led to the Saudi journalist’s killing.
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Trump said he wanted to believe Prince Mohammed when he said that lower level officials were to blame for the Oct. 2 killing at the Saudi mission. But he suggested responsibility lay higher up: “Well, the prince is running things over there more so at this stage. He’s running things and so if anybody were going to be, it would be him.”
A number of high profile business and political figures have pulled out of the conference over the death of the journalist, a prominent critic of Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler.
Meanwhile, the men suspected of murdering Khashoggi will not be allowed to enter the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Theresa May has said. So far eighteen men have been arrested by the Saudi authorities in connection with the killing in Istanbul. Mrs May told MPs if any of them had British visas, they would be revoked.
The PM said the claim the journalist had died in a fight was not credible and there was an “urgent need” to establish what had happened. Downing Street has declined to comment on the number of individuals to whom visa restrictions would apply, but said it was speaking to the US and other allies about its response.
Labour has called for much stronger action against the Saudi authorities, including a ban on all UK arms sales to the desert kingdom and an end to the UK’s backing for the Saudi-led bombing campaign against Houthi insurgents in Yemen.
On its part, France said it could impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia if its intelligence services establish the kingdom is behind the murder Khashoggi, government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said yesterday.
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It was the first time Paris had publicly brought up the possibility of sanctions, although diplomats cautioned that there would not be any “hasty” decision and there were concerns over harming France’s political relationship with the kingdom.
“As long as the facts have not been clearly established, and corroborated by our information services, we will not take any decision,” said Griveaux.
“But on the other hand, once light has been shed on the matter and has been corroborated by our services, based on the hypothesis that Saudi Arabia’s responsibility has been proved, then we would draw the necessary conclusions and impose appropriate sanctions,” he said.