US President Donald Trump hails alliance with Riyadh saying the Arab country is critical for US as well as Israeli interests, during a brief press conference at his Florida estate.
Israel would be in big trouble without Saudi Arabia, US President Donald Trump said on Thursday, as he hailed Riyadh's role in Middle East, during a brief press conference.
"If you look at Israel, Israel would be in big trouble without Saudi Arabia. So what does that mean? (Is) Israel going to leave? Do you want Israel to leave? We have a very strong ally in Saudi Arabia," Trump told reporters at his Florida estate when asked about journalist Jamal Khashogg's killing and if he is holding Saudi highest levels accountable.
Backs Saudi crown prince
In another matter that has set off rule-of-law alarms, Trump also doubled down on his decision to accept Saudi Arabia's denial that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the October 2 assassination of Khashoggi –– and insisted that contrary to reports the CIA has not concluded otherwise.
"We have an ally that says that it did not commit, at the top level - the crown prince, the king - they did not commit this atrocity."
"The CIA doesn’t say they did it, they do point out certain things and in pointing out those things you can conclude that maybe he did or maybe he didn’t," the US president.
Trump said Riyadh has been a "very strong ally" of the United States which has created "tremendous wealth and a tremendous amount of jobs in their purchases."
"They keep the oil prices down – if you want to see a global depression, all you have to do is lift the oil prices by $50 a barrel which can happen very quickly once we lose that relationship," Trump said.
Focus on oil
The focus on oil prices is one strand of Trump's argument against punishing the US ally for Khashoggi's death, even though the CIA reportedly found strong evidence that de facto Saudi leader, crown prince, was involved.
Khashoggi, a US resident who wrote for The Washington Post and had been critical of Prince Mohammed, was lured to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, killed and reportedly dismembered.
After lengthy denials, Saudi authorities admitted responsibility and said 21 people had been taken into custody.
However, a CIA analysis leaked to the US media went further, reportedly pointing the finger at Prince Mohammed, who has especially close contacts with the Trump White House.