US President Donald Trump said economic interests with Saudi Arabia were more important than focusing on their accountability for such cases as the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“I think this issue has been thoroughly investigated”, Trump told NBC television in response to a question on whether he would follow the UN’s instructions and order the FBI to investigate Khashoggi’s murder.
Trump also reiterated that Saudi Arabia must pay for the protection afforded by the United States.
“I spoke early in the morning with Prince Mohammed and told him he had to pay for his protection”, he said.
“No”, Trump replied, “but he pointed out that some countries in the region, including Iran, are committing more terrible acts than what happened to Khashoggi”.
“Iran has killed a large number in one day.
Other countries in the Middle East are conflict zones.
If you look at Saudi Arabia, you have to look at Iran and other countries.
I’ll not mention names and take a look at what is happening”.
“I’m not that idiot who says we do not want to deal with them commercially,” Trump said.
“What I’m saying is that they spend from $ 400 to $ 450 billion in a period of time.
By the way, if they stop commercial cooperation with us, I know what they’re going to do?
They’ll deal commercially with China and Russia, “he told the interlocutors”.
Let’s take their money, Let’s take their money, Chuck”.
Saudi Arabia faces widespread criticism, especially from Turkey, over the killing of Khashoggi in his consulate in Istanbul by a Saudi security team.
Saudi Arabia admitted after several contradictory accounts of the killing of Khashoggi inside its consulate and disposed of his body with the help of a “local collaborator”.
The Saudi prosecution said it had charged 11 people with the crime and demanded the execution of five of them, but Turkey, along with other countries, said that “Riyadh seeks to cover up those behind this crime”.
Full Donald Trump interview with Chuck Todd at NBC