UPDATE: Saudi Arabia today vowed unspecified retaliation against anyone who imposes penalties on the kingdom related to its alleged role in the disappearance and presumed murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Saudi Arabia was responding to the revelation by President Donald Trump in an interview that Saudi Arabia would suffer “severe consequences” if it was found to be tied to Khashoggi’s presumptive murder.
“The Kingdom affirms its total rejection of any threats and attempts to undermine it, whether by threatening to impose economic sanctions, using political pressures, or repeating false accusations,” the official Saudi Press Agency said on Sunday.
“The Kingdom also affirms that if it receives any action, it will respond with greater action, and that the Kingdom’s economy has an influential and vital role in the global economy,” it continued.
The top five source countries of US petroleum imports in 2017 were Canada, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Venezuela, and Iraq, according to statistics compiled by the non-government independent analysis firm US Energy Information Administration. The Saudi portion represents about nine percent of oil imports.
EARLIER: A 60 Minutes interview with President Donald Trump airing tonight promises “severe punishment” if it is proven that the Saudi Arabia government was behind the disappearance and presumed murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The Trump interview at the White House with Lesley Stahl touched on a number of subjects, including China, North Korea and his treatment of Christine Blasey Ford, the accuser of Associate Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh who almost derailed his nomination. The interview airs Sunday at 7:30 PM ET/PT on CBS.
An initial clip of the interview saw Trump admitting the Saudis could be behind the disappearance of Khashoggi, a critic of the kingdom who entered the Istanbul consulate Oct. 2 and was not seen again. Last Friday, news broke that Turkish authorities claim they have tapes proving he was murdered, according to a Washington Post report. His disappearance has sparked worldwide outrage and led a number of prominent media companies and journalists to pull out of a planned major media conference set for Saudi Arabia later this month.
A transcript of the Khashoggi talk was released by CBS:
Stahl: Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist, the Saudi journalist. Was he murdered by the Saudis? And did the prince give the order to kill him.
Trump: Well, nobody knows yet, but we’ll probably be able to find out. It’s being investigated, it’s being looked at very very strongly. And we would be very upset and angry if that were the case. As of this moment, they deny it and they deny it vehemently. Could it be them? Yes.
Stahl: Jared, your son-in-law, got on the phone and asked the prince. Did he deny it?
Trump: They deny it. They deny it every way you can imagine. In the not too distant future I think we’ll know an answer.
Stahl: What are your options? Let’s say, they did. What are your options? Would you consider imposing sanctions as a bipartisan group of senators have proposed?
Trump: Well, it depends on what the sanction is. I’ll give you an example, they are ordering military equipment. Everybody in the world wanted that order. Russia wanted it, China wanted it, we wanted it. We got it, and we got all of it, every bit of it.
Stahl: So would you cut that off?
Trump: Well I’ll tell you what I don’t want to do. Boeing, Lockheed, Raytheon, I don’t want to hurt jobs. I don’t want to lose an order like that. And you know what, there are other ways of punishing, to use a word that’s a pretty harsh word, but it’s true.
Stahl: Tell everybody what’s at stake here. You know…
Trump: Well there’s a lot at stake, there’s a lot at stake. And, maybe especially so because this man was a reporter. There’s something– you’ll be surprised to hear me say that, there’s something really terrible and disgusting about that if that was the case so we’re going to have to see. We’re going to get to the bottom of it and there will be severe punishment.
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