Trump for severe punishment in Saudi journo's disappearance but opposes cancelling $110 bn arms deal
Washington, Oct 15 (PTI) US President Donald Trump has vowed "severe punishment" if Saudi Arabia was behind the disappearance of its dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi who is feared killed at the kingdom's consulate in Turkey.
Trump, however, opposed the idea of cancelling the mega USD 110 billion arms deal with Riyadh, saying this will hurt American companies and jobs.
His remarks came amidst mounting pressure as reports coming out of Turkey suggest that Khashoggi was brutally killed by Saudi officials inside their consulate in Istanbul.
Khashoggi, 59, a Washington Post contributor, had gone there to collect some papers for his marriage.
"Well, there's a lot at stake. And maybe especially so because this man was a reporter. There's something-- you'll be surprised to hear me say that. There's something really terrible and disgusting about that, if that were the case. So we're gonna have to see. We're going to get to the bottom of it and there will be severe punishment," Trump told CBS News.
The interview was aired on Sunday.
In a statement issued through the official Saudi Press Agency, Saudi Arabia has said it would retaliate if there were any sanctions by the US.
"It will respond with greater action" if there was any action from the United states, it said.
"The Kingdom's economy has an influential and vital role in the global economy and that the Kingdom's economy is affected only by the impact of the global economy," it said.
Trump resisted the move to take steps that would harm the United states itself.
"What are you options? Let's say they did. What are your options? Would you consider imposing sanctions, as a bipartisan group of senators have proposed?" he was asked.
"It depends on what the sanction is. I'll give an example. They are ordering military equipment. Everybody in the world wanted that order. Russia wanted it, China wanted it, we wanted it. We got it," he said.
"I tell you what I don't wanna do. Boeing, Lockheed, Raytheon, all these companies, I don't wanna hurt jobs. I don't wanna lose an order like that. There are other ways of punishing, to use a word that's a pretty harsh word, but it's true," he said in response to the question.
The matter is still being investigated and Saudi Arabia has been claiming that Khashoggi left its Consulate in Istanbul.
Turkish investigative agencies, according to media reports, claim that they have audio and video evidence which indicated that the journalist was brutally killed inside the consulate. The US has sought information from Saudi Arabia.
Trump has said that he intends to speak to the Saudi King soon.
"Nobody knows yet, but we'll probably be able to find out. It's being investigated. It's being looked at very, very strongly. We would be very upset and angry if that were the case. As of this moment, they deny it. And deny it vehemently. Could it be them? Yes," Trump added.