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Saudi alliance doesn’t mean US ‘downplaying’ Khashoggi question: official

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AFP |

The US alliance with Saudi Arabia does not mean Washington is “ignoring or downplaying” the disappearance and suspected murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a US official said Tuesday.

The official was responding to questions about Riyadh’s role in enforcing the US campaign of “maximum pressure” on Tehran, as the administration unveiled new sanctions against an Iranian paramilitary group.

An insider turned critic of Saudi Arabia’s conservative monarchy, Khashoggi was last seen on October 2 when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to sort out marriage paperwork.

Some observers believe the United States is reluctant to confront Saudi Arabia for fear of losing a key regional ally, even if it were established the kingdom played a role in Khashoggi’s disappearance or death.

“Of course we have a longstanding relationship with Saudi Arabia that is very important, but that doesn’t mean we’re in any way ignoring or downplaying this episode, and we continue to believe that those who are responsible for it have to be held accountable,” the official said.

Read more: Fearing Saudi wrath the West treads cautiously on Khashoggi case

“It’s an important relationship but that doesn’t mean we’re ignoring all other issues,” she added, while arguing that regarding the enforcement of sanctions on Iran, “all of our regional partners are extremely important to that effort.”

“Obviously the Saudis are one important component, but we have a range of them,” she said.

The US alliance with Saudi Arabia does not mean Washington is “ignoring or downplaying” the disappearance and suspected murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a US official said Tuesday.

An insider turned critic of Saudi Arabia’s conservative monarchy, Khashoggi was last seen on October 2 when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to sort out marriage paperwork.

Read more: Lessons from Khashoggi’s disappearance – Jacob G. Hornberger

His disappearance has strained relations with Washington amid strong pressure from Congress — including from influential Republican lawmakers — to prevent the issue from being swept under the carpet.

President Donald Trump has threatened “severe punishment” if it is proven that Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate. But he also mused aloud that “rogue” elements may have been responsible, and has ruled out cutting sales of US weapons, of which Saudi Arabia is the largest foreign buyer.

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