WASHINGTON/DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – U.S. President Donald Trump called Saudi Arabia's removal of two top officials a "good first step" in response to the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, adding that he found the kingdom's explanation of his death credible. "I think we're getting close to solving a very big problem," Trump told reporters during a meeting with defense industry executives in Arizona. "I think it's a good first step." Saudi Arabia admitted Friday that Khashoggi died inside its Istanbul Consulate and said it had fired two senior officials over the incident, which has sparked an international outcry and strained relations with the West. King Salman ordered the dismissal of Saud al-Qahtani, a royal court advisor seen as the right-hand man to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and deputy intelligence chief Ahmed Asiri, a statement on state media said.
WASHINGTON/DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Saudi Arabia is running out of time to explain to the Trump administration what happened to journalist Jamal Khashoggi within its consulate in Turkey. The administration increasingly regards Saudi Arabia's denial of any involvement of Khashoggi's disappearance as untenable, and President Donald Trump and his aides are more and more convinced that the Washington Post writer died after entering the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 to pick up a document for his wedding, said three U.S. officials who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter. Despite increasing pressure from Congress, Trump is reluctant to cancel multimillion-dollar arms sales to Saudi Arabia out of concern the U.S. ally will turn to Russia or China instead. But a range of other punishments are under discussion within the administration, from downgrading diplomatic relations or sanctioning Saudi officials to following major U.S. companies in withdrawing officials from an investment conference in Riyadh later this month. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow warned Sunday of "stern action" by Trump if Saudi Arabia is found responsible for Khashoggi's disappearance.
FILE - In this Feb. 1, 2015, file photo, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks during a press conference in Manama, Bahrain. President Trump says he needs to learn more about the killing of a Saudi journalist and will be working with Congress on the U.S. response. Speaking late Saturday after a campaign rally in Nevada, he said he will be talking to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman soon. Saudi authorities announced that Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, died in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul after a fistfight with officials there. That explanation has sparked allegations of a cover-up intended to shield the powerful crown prince.
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has arrived in Buenos Aires in the run-up to the G20 summit, a visit fraught with controversy over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Human Rights Watch asked Argentina on Monday to use the war crimes clause in its constitution to investigate any involvement by the crown prince in possible crimes against humanity in Yemen and Khashoggi's murder. The killing of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and a critic of the crown prince, at Riyadh's consulate in Istanbul six weeks ago, has strained Saudi Arabia's ties with the West and battered Prince Mohammed's image abroad. Saudi Arabia has said the prince, the kingdom's de facto ruler, had no prior knowledge of the murder. Prince Mohammed arrived in Buenos Aires from Tunisia, where he was met by protesters who denounced him as a murderer for the killing of Khashoggi.
NEW YORK/ISTANBUL/NEW DELHI – British billionaire Richard Branson said on Thursday that his Virgin Group would suspend its discussions with Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund over a planned $1 billion investment in the group's space ventures, in light of events involving missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Turkish officials have alleged that Khashoggi, a Washington Post journalist, was murdered on Oct. 2 inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, where he went to get documents for his planned marriage. Riyadh has said the claims are baseless. "What has reportedly happened in Turkey around the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, if proved true, would clearly change the ability of any of us in the West to do business with the Saudi government," Branson said in a statement. Branson also said he would suspend his directorship in two Saudi tourism projects around the Red Sea, citing the incident.