*Sanctions likely in the next few days or weeks, says Graham
A key US senator Saturday said the Saudi crown prince was responsible for Jamal Khashoggi's murder and must be "dealt with", as he threatened new sanctions.
Republican Lindsey Graham, an influential ally of President Donald Trump, has previously said that Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman (MbS) was complicit in the grisly killing of Washington Post contributor Khashoggi in October.
"I have concluded that the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States cannot move forward until MbS has been dealt with," Graham said, using the initials for the crown prince.
Graham also threatened new sanctions against those suspected of involvement in the murder during a press conference in Ankara.
Western countries including the US, France and Canada have placed sanctions on nearly 20 Saudi nationals as the case has tarnished Riyadh's international reputation.
"We will start sanctioning those involved in the killing of Mr Khashoggi. We'll make a definitive statement that MbS knew about it and is responsible for it and come up with a series of sanctions," the South Carolina lawmaker said.
Turkey says Khashoggi was killed by a team of 15 Saudis who strangled him during a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain paperwork ahead of his upcoming marriage.
The remains of the insider-turned critic of the kingdom have yet to be found, three months after his murder.
Riyadh has denied any claims of the crown prince's involvement but the case has caused strains with Washington.
Earlier this month the trial of 11 accused opened in Saudi Arabia with the attorney general seeking the death penalty for five defendants.
Graham acknowledged that he had been "enthusiastic" in his support of Prince Mohamed but accepted he had been "wrong".
"What has transpired in the last couple of years is unnerving to say the least," he said.
Graham said the sanctions were intended to send the message that the murder was "not what you do if you're an ally of the United States".
Bloomberg adds: Mohamed bin Salman has shown “a level of instability that is chilling,” and US lawmakers will take action against the crown prince for his role in the murder of Khashoggi, Graham said.
Sanctions are forthcoming, likely in the next few days or weeks, the Republican senator said in an interview Saturday in Ankara, without providing any specific details on the penalties that may be imposed.
“Congress will send a very clear signal to the world and Saudi Arabia that we would not be doing business as usual.”
"We have to deal with bad people, but we don’t have to have special relationships with bad people,” Graham told Bloomberg News. “There’s strong bipartisan support not only to condemn the actions of Saudi, MbS, but actually do something about it.”
Graham has been an outspoken critic of the crown prince amid Trump’s efforts to maintain ties with the kingdom, which has been an important US ally in the Middle East. The senator in October slammed MbS as a “wrecking ball” and “toxic” figure who, he said, was directly responsible for the murder of Khashoggi. The influential Republican said at the time that he’d support efforts to “sanction the hell out of Saudi Arabia".
“This is what we expect of rogues, barbarians,” Graham said in the interview. “To give him a pass would be to open up a Pandora’s box in a region already in turmoil.”