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Saudi Arabia ‘rejects’ Senate resolution blaming crown prince for Khashoggi killing

Saudi Arabia ‘rejects’ Senate resolution blaming crown prince for Khashoggi killing
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman looks on during a meeting at the Diriya Palace in Riyadh on Dec. 9. (Bandar Jaloud / AFP/Getty Images)

The government of Saudi Arabia on Monday condemned a recent U.S. Senate resolution blaming Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, calling the Senate vote "blatant" interference in the kingdom's internal affairs, according to a Saudi government statement.

The Senate measure, which passed unanimously on Thursday, was a sweeping condemnation of the de facto Saudi ruler including his crackdown on internal dissent. And it was a rebuke of President Trump's defense of the crown prince and his position that Khashoggi's death should not threaten the financial and strategic ties between Saudi Arabia and the United States.

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In its lengthy response to the Senate on Monday, Saudi Arabia accused the lawmakers of making "unsubstantiated claims and allegations" and said it "categorically rejects any interference in its internal affairs, any and all accusations, in any manner, that disrespect its leadership, represented by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the Crown Prince, and any attempts to undermine its sovereignty or diminish its stature."

The Saudi government used similar language during a flare-up in August with Canada, after the Canadian Foreign Ministry called for the release of an imprisoned Saudi women's rights activist. Saudi Arabia announced that it was expelling the Canadian ambassador to Riyadh and halting new trade and investment deals.

Saudi officials did not announce any measures against the United States on Monday, and its statement took pains to praise the Trump administration, saying "the Kingdom appreciates the prudent position taken by the United States Government and its institutions regarding recent developments."

Khashoggi, a contributing columnist to the Washington Post, was killed by Saudi government agents in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. A CIA assessment concluded that the crown prince had likely ordered and monitored the killing. The Saudi government has said it is investigating Khashoggi's death but its prosecutors have already absolved the prince of any responsibility.

The Senate's rebuke of the crown prince beyond the Khashoggi case, faulting him for contributing to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, the continuing blockade of Qatar by Saudi Arabia and its allies and the detention and torture of Saudi dissidents and activists, including a group of women's rights advocates.

The Senate also approved a separate measure on Thursday to end U.S. participation in the Saudi-led war effort in Yemen.

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