US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, on Wednesday defended the Trump administration’s handling of the killing of Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.
Pompeo said this in Washington that the US was still investigating the killing.
He also stressed the importance of Saudi Arabia as a US ally against Iran.
Pompeo repeated his assertion that there was no direct evidence linking Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, to the October 2 murder of Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
He pointed to the sanctions imposed against Saudi Arabia and said the United States would continue to hold accountable those proven to have been involved in the killing of Khashoggi, a US resident and Washington Post columnist.
He restated this despite a CIA assessment that it was likely that prince ordered the killing.
The killing of Khashoggi sent shockwaves around the world and has drawn outrage from lawmakers in the US Congress, including President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans.
Some of them have urged harsher action against Saudi Arabia.
The United States imposed economic sanctions on 17 Saudi officials last month for their role in the killing, stopping short of action that might affect lucrative US arms deals with Saudi Arabia that Trump has vowed to preserve.
Riyadh initially denied any knowledge of Khashoggi’s disappearance after entering the consulate, then offered contradictory explanations, including that he was killed in a rogue operation.
Trump condemned the murder but has stood by the Saudi crown prince despite the CIA indictment.
“He’s the leader of Saudi Arabia. They’ve been a very good ally,” Trump told Reuters on Tuesday in an Oval Office interview.
He said: “No one underestimates how horrible this murder was. But remember, Iran is running rampant throughout the Middle East.
“The death of any one individual is awful. The death of hundreds of thousands of people in Europe or the Middle East or the United States matters an awful lot.”
Nikki Haley, the outgoing US ambassador to the United Nations, told NBC News earlier that the administration needed to figure out a path forward with the Saudis.
She said: “We need to have a serious, hard talk with the Saudis to let them know we won’t condone this, we won’t give you a pass and don’t do this again.
“And then I think that the administration has to talk about where we go from here.”