Donald Trump has failed to offer a commitment that the FBI would be permitted to investigate the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
The US president appeared dismissive of the idea in an interview with NBC, claiming the murder had already been “heavily investigated” and spoke of the money America makes from trade with Saudi Arabia.
His failure to support an FBI investigation into Khashoggi’s murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October comes days after a UN report said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman should face further investigation over the killing.
The report by UN Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial executions Agnes Callamard said there was “credible evidence, warranting further investigation” that bin Salman and other regime officials may be liable.
She also called on the UN Security Council, of which the US is a permanent member, to demand a “follow-up criminal investigation”.
Speaking to NBC News programme Meet the Press yesterday, Trump said the murder had already been “heavily investigated” when asked if he would allow the FBI to probe the case.
When asked who the murder had been “heavily investigated” by, the US President responded “everybody”.
He added that he did not mention the killing of Khashoggi in a recent conversation with bin Salman “because it really did not come up in that discussion”.
Throughout the interview with presenter Chuck Todd, Trump stressed that US relations with Saudi Arabia were important for his country’s economy.
He said: “I’m not a fool who says we don’t want to do business with them. And if they don’t do business with us, you know what they’ll do, they’ll do business with the Russians and Chinese.”
Saudi Arabia is the world’s biggest weapons importer with US arms accounting for half of those imports, according to the Financial Times.
Earlier this month, the US Senate voted to block the sale of $8bn worth of arms to the Saudi regime.
Callamard noted in her report that Germany was the “only Western government” to halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia, despite the EU Parliament passing a non-binding resolution urging member states to impose embargoes.
She also recommended that UN member states impose sanctions against the Saudi crown prince and other regime officials over the Khashoggi killing.
The UK Government said last week it would study the Special Rapporteur’s report and consider its findings.
Picture: Middle East Monitor/Handout via Reuters