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June 16, 2019
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US wants Saudi Arabia to hold accountable those responsible Khashoggi’s murder

The US is pressing Saudi Arabia to hold accountable those responsible for Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.

A senior US administration official said the Trump administration wants Saudi Arabia to show “tangible progress” toward holding to account those behind the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“We wants them to do so before the one-year anniversary of his murder,” the official said.

The official said that the message to the kingdom is that it remains a “very hot issue” and “they need to take it seriously.”

Republican and Democratic lawmakers, citing evidence of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s role in the Khashoggi case and incensed over the civilian toll from the Saudi air campaign in Yemen, have ramped up efforts to block Trump’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Saudis needed to complete their investigation and take action ahead of the anniversary but did not specify any consequences if they failed to do so. The Trump administration has so far taken only minimal steps.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and U.S. resident who had become a vocal critic of the prince, disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Eleven Saudi suspects have been put on trial in secretive proceedings but only a few hearings have been held since January.

“There will be increased sensitivity around the anniversary,” the official said. “It would be in everyone’s best interest to have some tangible progress by then.”

The CIA has determined with “medium to high confidence” that the crown prince, commonly known by his initials MbS and considered de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, ordered the killing, U.S. government sources have said. The spy agency has continued to monitor and gather information but is not conducting a full-scale inquiry, a U.S. official said.