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US senators keen to punish Saudi crown prince but divided on tactics

US senators keen to punish Saudi crown prince but divided on tactics

The Saudi prince is facing continuing pressure over the October 2 killing of the journalist inside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul.

The more the Trump administration tries to put the issue of Jamal Khashoggi behind it, the more its efforts appear to backfire, keeping the journalist's murder front and center and hardening a bipartisan U.S. Senate demand for action against Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Turkey has been seeking to extradite 18 suspects, including 15 members of the alleged assassination squad.

"The global community seems to doubt Saudi Arabia's commitment to prosecute this heinous crime".

Riyadh has since detained 21 people over the murder.

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The move came a day after CIA Director Gina Haspel briefed a small group of senators on Khashoggi's murder following an outcry from lawmakers over her absence last week during a Senate briefing on Yemen that was attended by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton. If it advances beyond that, senators have an opportunity to debate and add amendments to the resolution before a final vote.

Moreover, the resolution criticises the crown prince's domestic policies, accusing him of frequently disregarding the rights of Saudi citizens "in an effort to consolidate his personal control over Saudi government decision-making".

Senators are considering multiple pieces of legislation to formally rebuke Saudi Arabia for the slaying of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, with momentum building for a resolution to call Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman complicit in the killing. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

But senator after senator leaving the Central Intelligence Agency briefing said there's no doubt that bin Salman was involved, adding that the United States can not ignore the matter.

Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, who supported the resolution, said last week that the Trump administration's weak response to Khashoggi's murder had damaged the nation's credibility overseas.

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Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi consulate in Turkey after arriving for routine paperwork in preparation to marry his Turkish fiancee.

The two men also echoed Trump's reluctance to blame the crown prince. Graham, Corker and other lawmakers came out of the meeting even more convinced of their opposition to the crown prince.

"I think Secretary Pompeo and Secretary Mattis are following the lead of the president".

"What I've been asked is - if I say something, I need the evidence", he continued. He was not in Haspel's briefing, which was attended by a select number of committee chairs and top-ranking Democrats.

"Every senator should hear what I heard this afternoon", Durbin said.

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"Maybe he did and maybe he didn't", Trump said, but noted the strong US interest in keeping Saudi Arabia as an ally and moving forward with a high-figure weapons deal that was helping American workers.