'Could it be them? Yes', says Donald Trump

Updated: Oct 14, 2018, 09:58 IST | Agencies

The US President suspects Saudi Arabia's involvement in the disappearance of missing journalist

'Could it be them? Yes', says Donald Trump
Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump has said Saudi Arabia could be behind the disappearance of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi and warned Washington would inflict "severe punishment" if he was murdered.

The Saudi critic has not been seen since he walked into the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul on October 2, with Turkish officials accusing Riyadh of murdering him inside the diplomatic mission.

"If true, the fact that a journalist was murdered was terrible and disgusting... We're going to get to the bottom of it and there will be severe punishment," Trump told CBS's 60 Minutes programme, according to an extract of an interview that was released on Saturday. "As of this moment, they deny it and they deny it vehemently. Could it be them? Yes," Trump said.

Jamal Khashoggi. Pics/AFP
Jamal Khashoggi. Pics/AFP

He added the matter was especially important "because this man was a reporter." He said he would be "very upset and angry if that were the case", but ruled out halting big military contracts.

He said there were "other ways of punishing" than cancelling military contracts, which powers like Russia and China were interested in. "I don't want to hurt jobs, I don't want to lose an order like that."

Saudi in denial
The kingdom's interior minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud Naif bin Abdulaziz condemned reports that the journalist was murdered as "lies and baseless allegations".

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