Donald Trump mum on FBI probe into Jamal Khashoggi murder, suggests that Saudi pledge to buy US military equipment more important for economy

Washington: President Donald Trump isn't saying whether he'll direct the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to investigate the death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

 Donald Trump mum on FBI probe into Jamal Khashoggi murder, suggests that Saudi pledge to buy US military equipment more important for economy

An activist holds a sign and image of missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a demonstration. Reuters

Trump said that the slaying of the Saudi Arabian journalist has "been heavily investigated" and he suggested that pledges by US ally Saudi Arabia to spend billions of dollars buying US military equipment is more important to him because of the economic impact and jobs than finding out what happened to Khashoggi.

Last week, an independent United Nations report on the killing found "credible evidence" to warrant further investigation into the possible role of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and called for the FBI to investigate.

US intelligence agencies had also concluded that the crown prince ordered that Khashoggi be killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

"Saudi Arabia is a big buyer of (American) product. That means something to me. It's a big producer of jobs," the president told NBC's "Meet the Press" in a wide-ranging interview that was taped Friday and broadcast Sunday.

Trump said the subject of Khashoggi "didn't come up" when he and the crown prince spoke last Thursday, largely about Iran. He added that the Middle East is a "vicious, hostile place" and that Iran and other countries in the region are also guilty of the type of behavior Saudi Arabia has been accused of engaging in.

Khashoggi was killed and believed to have been dismembered by Saudi agents, inside the consulate on 2 October 2018. His remains have never been found.

The president declined last year to penalize Saudi Arabia over the killing. Khashoggi had been living in the US at the time of his death.

Trump said he's "not like a fool" that will refuse to do business with Saudi Arabia, arguing that the kingdom will turn to US rivals China and Russia if Washington refuses to sell arms to the Saudis.

"Take their money. Take their money," Trump said.

Updated Date: Jun 24, 2019 09:40:00 IST