US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has denied that Washington is “covering up” the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and promised further action.
“America is not covering up for a murder,” Pompeo told reporters in Budapest when asked about criticism by a senior Democrat.
He added that the United States would take more action to hold accountable all those responsible for the US-based journalist’s death inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.
The remarks came after US President Donald Trump missed a deadline set by Congress to reply by Friday on whether Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman ordered the killing of the Washington Post contributor.
US lawmakers, Democrats and some of Trump’s fellow Republicans, have sought a strong response by Washington to Khashoggi’s murder and to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is fighting Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
Pompeo said that Trump’s administration is “working diligently” on its investigation.
“The president has been very clear – couldn’t be more clear – as we get additional information, we will continue to hold all of those responsible accountable,” he said.
Khashoggi, who lived in the United States, was strangled to death and dismembered in October after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to take care of paperwork for his marriage, according to officials.
Trump said nothing on the congressional deadline, while congressional aides said that Pompeo had sent them a letter in which he outlined actions over the killing.
The administration revoked the visas of nearly two dozen Saudi officials and froze the assets of 17 others.
However, Trump has openly said that he does not care if Prince Mohamed is responsible for the killing, as Saudi Arabia buys weapons from the United States and shares his hard line on Iran.
Democratic US Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, on Sunday accused the Trump administration of complicity in covering up the killing.
“This amounts to the Trump administration aiding in the cover-up of a murder,” Kaine said in a statement. “America should never descend to this level of moral bankruptcy.”
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