Saudi Arabia Promises Retaliation If U.S. Levies Sanctions In Khashoggi Case

Oct 14, 2018
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SHEREEN MARISOL MERAJI, HOST:

More now on the case of the missing Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. He disappeared and is thought to have been killed after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this month. Saudi Arabia denies those allegations, but President Trump, yesterday, promised powerful consequences if Saudi Arabia is behind Khashoggi's disappearance and possible death. NPR's Jackie Northam has more.

JACKIE NORTHAM, BYLINE: President Trump has had to walk a fine line over the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi. He wants to ensure that $100 billion worth of arms sales to Saudi Arabia - and the American jobs that go with that - aren't in jeopardy. But the president is also under pressure to investigate what happened to Khashoggi and whether Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was involved. Trump told CBS's "60 Minutes" program his administration would be very angry if that were the case.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "60 MINUTES")

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: There's something really terrible and disgusting about that if that were the case, so we're going to have to see. We're going to get to the bottom of it, and there will be severe punishment.

NORTHAM: Today, the Saudi government lashed out, issuing a statement that it rejects any threats or attempts to undermine it by repeating false accusations. It warned that if any economic sanctions were imposed on the kingdom, it would respond with what it called greater action. It wasn't made clear what that action would be. About five hours after it issued that statement, the Saudi Embassy in Washington tweeted out a much gentler message, saying Saudi Arabia extends its appreciation to all, including the U.S. administration, for refraining from jumping to conclusions about the Khashoggi investigation. There are signs the deteriorating situation over Khashoggi is hitting Saudi Arabia's economy. The kingdom's stock market plunged today as much as 7 percent before rallying slightly.

Jackie Northam, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.