Trump says U.S. would be ‘punishing’ itself if it halts Saudi arms sales

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Saturday the United States would be “punishing” itself by halting military sales to Saudi Arabia even if it is proven that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the country’s consulate in Istanbul.

Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Riyadh and a U.S. resident, disappeared on Oct. 2 after visiting the Saudi consulate. Turkey’s government believes he was deliberately killed inside the building and his body removed.

Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Riyadh and a U.S. resident, disappeared on Oct. 2 after visiting the Saudi consulate. Turkey’s government believes he was deliberately killed inside the building and his body removed.

Trump has forged closer ties with Saudi Arabia and is under international and domestic pressure to help determine what happened to Khashoggi and punish Saudi Arabia if investigations show its government had him killed.

“I actually think we’d be punishing ourselves if we did that,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

“There are other things we can do that are very, very powerful, very strong and we’ll do them,” he added, without saying what those measures might be.

Under U.S. law, major foreign military sales can be blocked by Congress. An informal review process lets key lawmakers use a practice known as a “hold” to stall deals if they have concerns such as whether the weapons being supplied would be used to kill civilians.

Major U.S. defense contractors, including Lockheed Martin Corp and Raytheon Co, are among the beneficiaries of Washington’s close ties to Riyadh and would be hurt by the halting of major arms deals.

Trump said on Saturday his administration won a $110 billion military order from Saudi Arabia and that the deal, combined with Saudi commitments to invest heavily in the United States, was worth hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs.

“If they don’t buy it from us, they’re going to buy it from Russia or they’re going to buy it from China,” he said. “Think of that, $110 billion. All they’re going to do is give it to other countries, and I think that would be very foolish.”

Trump said on Saturday his administration won a $110 billion military order from Saudi Arabia and that the deal, combined with Saudi commitments to invest heavily in the United States, was worth hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs.

“If they don’t buy it from us, they’re going to buy it from Russia or they’re going to buy it from China,” he said. “Think of that, $110 billion. All they’re going to do is give it to other countries, and I think that would be very foolish.”

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