US says Saudis can do more after UN Khashoggi probe

Washington (AFP) –


A US official said Wednesday that Saudi Arabia should do more to ensure accountability over the death of dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi but stopped short of blaming the crown prince after a UN probe linked him to the killing.

Brian Hook, who is in charge of pushing President Donald Trump's hawkish line on Iran, was asked about US support of Tehran's regional rival Saudi Arabia as he testified before Congress.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo "has made it very clear that we are determined to hold every single person materially responsible accountable," Hook said.

"The Saudi prosecutor has taken important steps toward accountability for the tragic killing of Jamal Khashoggi but more needs to be done," Hook said.

He did not directly respond to the question from Democratic Representative Ted Lieu, who asked if the Trump administration shared the widely reported view of the CIA that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing.

The UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard, earlier Wednesday said there was "credible evidence" that tied the powerful crown prince to the killing.

Khashoggi, a US-based writer who annoyed the prince through critical columns in The Washington Post, was strangled to death and dismembered after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to handle wedding paperwork, according to US and Turkish officials.

A number of US lawmakers have described the killing as a turning point in relations with Saudi Arabia and voiced outrage that the Trump administration has maintained its cozy relationship with the oil-rich kingdom and the prince.

Most recently, the administration defiantly approved $8.1 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other Arab allies, citing risks from Iran to bypass the usual process of seeking a congressional green light.