Trump vowed on Tuesday 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, a US resident and Washington Post columnist.
Of the possibility Prince Mohammed had a hand in the murder, Trump said: “Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t.”
His comments contradicted the CIA, which believes Khashoggi’s death was ordered directly by the crown prince, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler.
Numan Kurtulmus, deputy chairperson of President Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party, dismissed Trump’s assessment. “Yesterday’s statement is a comic statement,” he said.
“It is not possible for an intelligence agency such as the CIA, which even knows the colour of the fur on the cat walking around the Saudi consulate’s garden to not know who gave this order,” he said.
“This is not credible either for US public opinion or world opinion.”
Since Khashoggi’s killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last month, Turkey has repeatedly said the order came from the “highest levels” of the Saudi government, although it has not directly accused Prince Mohammed.
Saudi Arabia has denied that the crown prince ordered the killing.
After offering numerous contradictory explanations, Riyadh said last week that Khashoggi had been killed and his body dismembered when “negotiations” to persuade him to return to Saudi Arabia failed.
Trump said Saudi Arabia, a major oil producer, was an important business partner and “great ally”. Reuters