Senior officials of US President Trump’s cabinet appeared before Senate ahead of a planned vote on reducing military assistance to Riyadh, blamed for high civilian death rates in Yemen and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Both officials sought to persuade US lawmakers to maintain US’ increasingly contentious backing of Saudi Arabia in the war in Yemen, arguing that pulling back would worsen the brutal conflict.
Both officials sought to persuade US lawmakers to maintain US’ increasingly contentious backing of Saudi Arabia in the war in Yemen, arguing that pulling back would worsen the brutal conflict. (AFP Archive)
Senior members of President Donald Trump’s cabinet urged US senators on Wednesday not to downgrade ties with Saudi Arabia over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying it would be a mistake for national security and would not push Saudis in a better direction at home.
After repeated calls from members of Congress for a strong US response, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis briefed the Senate behind closed doors about Saudi Arabia, the October 2 murder of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and on the civil war in Yemen.
“The October murder of Saudi national Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey has heightened the Capitol Hill caterwauling and media pile-on. But degrading US-Saudi ties would be a grave mistake for the national security of the US and its allies,” Pompeo wrote in a blog post released shortly before the briefing.
Speaking to reporters, Pompeo said there was no direct evidence connecting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the Khashoggi killing.
“There is no direct reporting connecting the crown prince to the order to murder Jamal Khashoggi,” he said.