US President Donald Trump accused Saudi Arabia of lying about the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, his strongest comments to date on the affair, as pressure built yesterday on the administration to identify and punish those responsible.
In an interview with The Washington Post published late Saturday, Trump stepped back from his stance that the Saudis had earlier provided a credible explanation for the death of the journalist inside their Istanbul consulate, but he said he remained confident in the leadership of Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman.
“Obviously there’s been deception and there’s been lies,” he said of the shifting accounts offered by Riyadh.
Saudi officials originally said Khashoggi, who entered the diplomatic mission on October 2, had left unharmed, before announcing on Friday that he was killed inside the building in what they described as an altercation.
“Their stories are all over the place,” added Trump.
Saudi Arabia faced a growing chorus of incredulity yesterday, with world powers including Britain and France demanding answers and some American politicians calling for tough, concerted action to punish the Saudi royal family if it were proven to be responsible.
The Saudi version lacked “consistency and credibility,” said Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign minister.
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