CIA director briefs House on Khashoggi's death, little effect reported

2018-12-13 08:57:10Xinhua Editor : Gu Liping ECNS App Download

CIA Director Gina Haspel on Wednesday briefed some U.S. House leaders on the death of a Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. However, her briefing has had little effect in changing the Representatives' minds, according to U.S. media reports.

Sources familiar with the meeting were quoted as saying that the briefing was conducted on Wednesday morning on a classified condition.

The meeting ended as lawmakers told the media before leaving that they had not heard anything that would change their minds about Khashoggi's death.

Democratic Representative Eliot Engel, possibly the next chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, was quoted by Reuters as saying that he intended to hold hearings starting early next year to review all aspects of Saudi Arabia's behavior and the U.S.-Saudi relationship.

"I think that all leaders are responsible for things that happen under them. So I think that we've still got to get to the bottom of it," he noted. "Saudi Arabia's an important... partner, but I don't think we can simply look the other way when things happen and talk about business as usual."

Haspel has briefed a group of senators over the case earlier, but several senators said after the briefing that there was "zero chance" the Saudi crown prince wasn't involved in the killing.

The Senate was preparing to vote on two resolutions that would condemn Saudi Arabia's role in both Khashoggi's case and the Yemen conflict, despite the earlier briefing of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary Defense James Mattis last month, when they said there was "no smoking gun" to prove the Saudi leader has directly ordered to kill Khashoggi.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said earlier the Senate would vote as soon as Wednesday on a resolution calling for the U.S. suspension of all its assistance for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

Bob Corker, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, also told the media that he was preparing a separate resolution condemning the journalist's killing. McConnell urged senators to vote for Corker's proposal.

For their parts, Pompeo and Mattis are expected to brief the full House on Khashoggi's case on Thursday.

Earlier on Wednesday, Pompeo told the Fox & Friends show in an interview that "we'll continue to develop the facts, but America has an important ally in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."

However, he refused to say whether he believes the Saudi crown prince's denial of personal involvement in the killing, only noting that "the direct evidence isn't yet available. It may show up tomorrow; it may have shown up overnight and I haven't seen it."

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he would stand with the Saudi Arabian crown prince despite the death of Khashoggi.

Noting that he would meet with senators in the hope that they would not propose to stop arms sales to the Saudis, Trump added that he could abide by legislation that requires to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led attack in Yemen, since he personally "hate to see what's going on" there.

Khashoggi has been missing since he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. The Saudi authorities said he died in a "brawl" in the consulate.

After releasing the results of its initial investigation, the Saudi Public Prosecution announced that 18 Saudis were arrested for their alleged connections with the killing.

The U.S. Congress has urged a thorough investigation into his death, and threatened to take more actions against Saudi Arabia, such as sanctions and suspension of military support for the Saudi-led attack in Yemen, if those responsible were not held accountable.

However, the Trump administration has been reluctant to further punish the Saudi government. Pompeo said in a recent article that the death of Khashoggi has "heightened the Capitol Hill caterwauling and media pile-on."

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