JERUSALEM/RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s explanation of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was a “good first step but not enough”, the U.S. Treasury secretary said on Sunday, adding it was premature to discuss any sanctions against Riyadh over the incident.
The comments from Steven Mnuchin are the latest from the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump that appear aimed at censuring a killing that has sparked global outrage while protecting relations with the world’s top oil exporter.
European governments, as well as some lawmakers in Trump’s own Republican party, have been more forceful in dismissing Riyadh’s explanation that Khashoggi died following a fistfight in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. On Sunday, Britain’s Brexit minister said that account was not credible.
“It would be premature to comment on sanctions and premature to comment on really any issues until we get further down the investigation and get to the bottom of what occurred,” Mnuchin told reporters in Jerusalem.
While Mnuchin said he would not attend a Saudi investment conference on Tuesday, he will still visit Riyadh as planned for talks with his counterpart there on joint efforts to counter terrorist financing and plans by Washington to reimpose sanctions against Iran in November.
Khashoggi, a Saudi national and U.S. resident, went missing after entering the consulate to obtain documents for his upcoming marriage. After denying any involvement in the 59-year-old’s disappearance for two weeks, Saudi Arabia on Saturday said the prominent journalist and critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had died during a fight in the building. An hour later, another Saudi official attributed the death to a chokehold.
Reflecting the intensifying international scepticism over its account, a senior Saudi government official has laid out a new version that in key respects contradicts previous explanations. Agencies
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