Time in Yerevan: 11:07:36,   16 January

US President Trump calls Jamal Khashoggi's death 'a plot gone awry'

YEREVAN, OCTOBER 23, ARMENPRESS. US President Donald Trump on Monday questioned the account Saudi officials have given him about the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi but said he still believed it was “a plot gone awry.” In an exclusive interview with USA TODAY, he indicated he would oppose efforts to cease arms sales to the kingdom in response.

There are “many other” potential penalties, he said, saying he would be guided by consultations with key members of Congress in settling on the appropriate response, USA TODAY reports.

In characterizing the Khashoggi incident as a "plot gone awry," Trump indicated that he thought the journalist wasn’t deliberately lured into the consulate to be murdered.

Trump said he had talked on the phone with both Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and that more details about what happened inside the Saudi Consulate in Turkey would be known within a day or two.

“He says he is not involved nor is the king,” Trump said of the Saudi crown prince, declining to answer whether he believed his denials. If their involvement was proven, “I would be very upset about it. We’ll have to see.”

He called the killing of Khashoggi, a journalist and columnist for The Washington Post, “foolish and stupid.”

Earlier Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman called slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s son, Salah, to express their condolences, the Saudi Press Agency said late on Sunday, Reuters reports.

Saudi Arabia has said that Khashoggi, a prominent journalist and critic of Saudi rulers, died in a fight inside its Istanbul consulate - after two weeks of denials that it had anything to do with his disappearance.

Saudi Arabia on Sunday called the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at its Istanbul consulate a “huge and grave mistake.”

After two weeks denying any involvement in the 59-year-old’s disappearance, Saudi Arabia on Saturday said Khashoggi, a critic of the crown prince, died during a fight in the building. An hour later, another Saudi official attributed the death to a chokehold.

“Nothing can justify this killing and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms,” Germany, Britain and France said in their joint statement.

“There remains an urgent need for clarification of exactly what happened ... beyond the hypotheses that have been raised so far in the Saudi investigation, which need to be backed by facts to be considered credible.”

The White House said late on Sunday that U.S. President Donald Trump had spoken to French President Emmanuel Macron and the two had discussed a range of issues including circumstances surrounding Khashoggi’s death.

Reflecting international skepticism over its account, a senior Saudi government official laid out a new version that contradicts previous explanations.

The latest account includes details on how 15 Saudis sent to confront Khashoggi had threatened him with being drugged and kidnapped and killed him in a chokehold when he resisted. A member of the team dressed in Khashoggi’s clothes to make it appear as if he had left the consulate.


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