Donald Trump’s comments about Jamal Khashoggi’s killing show the U.S. president will turn a blind eye to the issue no matter what investigators uncover, Turkey’s foreign minister said Friday.
Trump has vowed to remain a “steadfast partner” of Saudi Arabia despite saying that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may have known about the plan to murder Khashoggi last month.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu criticized Trump’s stance for putting commercial deals with Riyadh ahead of justice, saying human life should take precedence.
“This statement that Trump made also means: ‘No matter what happens, I will turn a blind eye.’ This is not a correct approach. Not everything is money,” Cavusoglu told broadcaster CNN Turk.
Meanwhile, Democrats on the U.S. House intelligence panel say they will investigate Trump’s response to the murder of Khashoggi as part of a “deep dive” next year into U.S.-Saudi Arabia ties.
U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, who will chair the committee in the new Congress, told The Washington Post that the committee will investigate the U.S. intelligence assessment of Khashoggi’s death as well as the war in Yemen, the stability of the Saudi royal family and the kingdom’s treatment of critics and the press, among other topics,
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
“Certainly we will be delving further into the murder of Khashoggi,” Schiff told the Post. “We will certainly want to examine what the intelligence community knows about the murder.”
The crown prince was in the United Arab Emirates on Friday, on his first tour abroad since the killing.
The prince, who arrived in Abu Dhabi late on Thursday, is also due to visit other Mideast countries, where he will be warmly received by Arab leaders who have stood firmly by his side amid international outrage over Khashoggi’s horrific slaying.
The crown prince will round off his tour with a stop in Argentina where he’ll come face-to-face with world leaders on Nov. 30 for the two-day Group of 20 summit. Among those expected to attend that summit are Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has kept international pressure mounting on the kingdom in the wake of Khashoggi’s killing.
bin Salman’s tour abroad underscores the strong support the crown prince continues to have from his 82-year-old father, King Salman, and signals that he faces no immediate threats to his grip on power at home.
In Turkey, Cavusoglu also said the United States had not informed Turkey of an audio recording regarding Khashoggi’s killing, a day after a Turkish newspaper said that the CIA had signalled to Turkey it had a recording in which the crown prince gave the order “silence Khashoggi.”
Erdogan has said the order for Khashoggi’s killing came from the highest level of the Saudi government but probably not King Salman, putting the spotlight instead on Salman’s heir and de facto ruler the crown prince.
Meanwhile, in Germany, its industry’s voluntary halt in previously authorized arms shipments to Saudi Arabia is slated to last until mid-January, sources said on Friday.
It was not immediately clear whether the halt in deliveries would be extended again or whether the companies would insist that the German government formally revoke the licences then.
German firms are not eligible for compensation for lost revenue unless the government has taken that step, according to one industry source.
“The companies have agreed to halt deliveries for now, but the situation may change if Saudi Arabia begins to demand damages for delayed deliveries,” the source said.