Trump's flip-flop on Khashoggi emboldening Saudis

Trump's flip-flop on Khashoggi emboldening Saudis

The president has said the USA will inflict "severe punishment" if Saudi Arabia is found to be responsible for the death of Mr Khashoggi.

"The kingdom emphasizes that it will respond to any measure against it with an even stronger measure", the official said, according to SPA.

"The Kingdom also affirms that if it receives any action, it will respond with greater action, [and] that the Kingdom's economy has an influential and vital role in the global economy", the statement continues.

Saudi Arabia has been under pressure since Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Riyadh and a USA resident, disappeared on October 2 after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

It is feared the Washington Post columnist, who lived in the U.S., was killed and dismembered when he visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

The threat caused the stock market of the world's biggest oil exporter to lose as much as $33 billion of its value on Sunday in one of the first signs of the economic pain that Riyadh could suffer over the affair.

Trump's remarks came after Saudi Interior Minister Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Nayef rejected allegations over the death of Khashoggi as "lies", stressing that the accusations of a murder plot were targeting the Saudi government.

Foreign capital is key to Saudi Arabia's plans to diversify its economy beyond oil and cut a 12.9 percent jobless rate among its citizens. It would lead to Saudi Arabia's failure to commit to producing 7.5 million barrels.

But President Trump, who also has Saudi business ties, says he does not want the U.S.to cancel lucrative military contracts with the kingdom.

In a joint statement later Sunday, the foreign ministers of the UK, France and Germany said "light must be shed" on Khashoggi's disappearance.

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Writing in the New York Times, Ms Cengiz said her fiancé did not express any fears about going to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to sort out some paperwork ahead of their wedding.

Turkish and Saudi authorities have now been told to launch a "credible investigation" into Mr Khashoggi's disappearance. Benchmark Brent crude is trading at around $80 a barrel, and Trump has criticized OPEC and Saudi Arabia over rising prices.

On Sunday, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Saudi Arabia should take Trump's warning over the journalist's fate seriously.

"There's a lot at stake", he said.

A White House aide said President Trump is serious when he says there'll be "severe punishment" if Saudi Arabia is found to be complicit in the disappearance.

Khashoggi, journalist and columnist for The Washington Post, has been missing since he entered the consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

"He'd given it to her as she waited outside the consulate, telling her who to call if he didn't come out of the building", the report said, adding all the conversations of the Saudi executioners were recorded in this file".

Washington lobbying firm Harbour group which represented the Saudi government, has also terminated its US$80,000 per month contract, the firm's managing director Richard Mintz said. The president cited the effects such action may have on American businesses.

Pressure has mounted on the WWE to cancel the event, or change the location of it, following the drama that now surrounds the country of Saudi Arabia.

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