White House Defends Not Slapping Sanctions on Saudi Prince
United States Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Monday said Washington reserves the right to sanction Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman for the grisly 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but acknowledged the White House is “focused on future conduct” and is looking only to “recalibrate” relations with Riyadh, not “rupture” them. State Department spokesman Ned Price noted the US is “trying to get to the systemic issues underlying the brutal murder,” and urged Saudi Arabia to take “additional steps” in its recent human rights makeover, including lifting travel bans on activists released from prison and commuting others’ sentences. On Friday, President Joe Biden released a declassified intelligence report claiming the de-facto Saudi ruler, nicknamed MBS, approved the killing of the Washington Post journalist for criticizing the Gulf kingdom, and sanctioned some 76 Saudi officials. The exemption of the crown prince from punishment was panned on Monday by the United Nations special investigator into the Khashoggi case, who called the US decision “extremely problematic and dangerous.” MBS has denied any involvement in the matter, while eight Saudis convicted of the murder have been jailed, their death sentence commuted by a Riyadh court last year.