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Senators send rebuke to Saudis, Trump over Khashoggi killing

Senators send rebuke to Saudis, Trump over Khashoggi killing

In prepared marks he's expected to deliver to members of the Senate on Wednesday, Mattis makes a strong defense of the US role in Yemen and continued close partnership with Saudi Arabia.

Canada announced on Thursday targeted sanctions against 17 Saudi Arabian nationals whom it says were involved in the murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi last month.

"Had a fruitful interaction with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud".

Mattis says the U.S.is "seldom free to work with unblemished partners" and warns that ending USA involvement in the conflict would "be misguided on the eve of the promising initial negotiations".

Still, as the driving force behind Saudi Arabia's military involvement in Yemen, MBS has been under heightened scrutiny.

Senior members of President Donald Trump's Cabinet urged USA senators Wednesday not to downgrade ties with Saudi Arabia over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying it would harm national security and threaten Middle East stability.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says "some kind of response" is needed for the Saudis' role in the gruesome death in Turkey.

Wednesday's procedural vote sets up a floor debate on the resolution next week.

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Pompeo says USA involvement in the conflict is central to the Trump administration's broader goal of containing Iranian influence in the Middle East.

In Yemen, he added that Iran's backed Houthis "have occupied Saudi territory, seized a major port, and, with Iranian help, improved their ballistic-missile targeting so that they can shoot at Riyadh's worldwide airport..."

Mattis, in prepared remarks released before the closed briefing, said that "we must maintain our twin requirements of holding those responsible for the murder to account, while recognizing the reality of Saudi Arabia as a necessary strategic partner".

Saudi Arabia has said that 21 people are in custody, with death penalties sought against five men.

Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who wrote critical articles about his country's government, died inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

The briefing could determine how far Congress goes in punishing the longtime US ally in the Mideast. President Donald Trump has equivocated over who is to blame.

The White House issued a veto threat for that resolution, even as Pompeo and Mattis spoke with the senators.

Echoing Trump's public comments on the killing, Pompeo said after Wednesday's briefing with senators that there was "no direct reporting" connecting the crown prince to the murder, and Mattis said there was "no smoking gun" making the connection.

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