Washington reserves the right to punish Bin Salman … but it will not


White House spokeswoman Jane Saki said that Washington “reserves the right to impose sanctions on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the future,” in relation to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Saki said in a press conference Monday: “Historically, the United States has not imposed sanctions on leaders of other countries.” She added that targeting the network responsible for Khashoggi’s killing with sanctions is “the best way to avoid a recurrence of such acts.”

Saki indicated that the report on Khashoggi’s assassination did not provide new information. She stated that Washington aims to control relations with Saudi Arabia, and to take steps “considered correct” that would ensure that what happened would not be repeated.

Biden had said earlier that he would announce on Monday what he would do about Saudi Arabia in general, in response to a question about possible sanctions against the Saudi crown prince, in light of the US intelligence report on Khashoggi’s killing, in 2018.

On February 16, the White House announced that US President Joe Biden wanted to “reset” relations with Saudi Arabia, and that his talks would take place with King Salman bin Abdulaziz, not with the crown prince.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said that his country is seeking to ensure that the assassination of Khashoggi does not happen again. He added, in a press conference on Monday, that the United States will reinforce in its reports information on violations of human rights defenders and journalists.

He pointed out that “it is important for US interests that Saudi Arabia continue its reform processes.” He called on the Kingdom to “dismantle the Rapid Support Unit of the Royal Guard.” He added that his country will not reveal the identity of 76 Saudis who are subject to the new visa restrictions, explaining that “our partnership with Saudi Arabia is going through a process of re-amendment and not a rupture.”

On the extent of the intention to impose sanctions on those involved in Khashoggi’s killing, Price said, “We do not impose sanctions on the leaders of countries with whom we disagree or have problems with them.” He explained that the Biden administration sent a clear message to Saudi Arabia, defining the features of relations, saying that it “aims to reach a responsible partnership with the Kingdom.”

For his part, the spokesman for the US Department of Defense, John Kirby, confirmed Monday that the United States will continue to “fulfill its military obligations with Saudi Arabia.” In a press conference, he said, “There are no decisions among the US military regarding US-Saudi relations.”

Kirby added, “I do not know of any changes regarding relations between Washington and Riyadh,” noting that Saudi Arabia “is considered a strategic partner of the United States in the region, but we know according to the White House statements that there will be changes in relations.”

The US official stated that relations between the two countries must remain “active”, and that the issue of human rights and the sanctions file related to Khashoggi’s killing is “an order of the White House and the State Department.”


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