Amid Khashoggi furore, Saudi ambassador Khalid bin Salman returns to US

Senator Lindsey Graham after the CIA briefing
Credit
Reuters

Senator Lindsey Graham after the CIA briefing Credit Reuters

Saudi Arabia has said that the three summits hosted by Riyadh on May 20 and 21 during United States President Donald Trump's visit would "change the game' rules".

"There is not a smoking gun - there is a smoking saw", Graham said, referring to Khashoggi's alleged dismemberment in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October. He said you'd have to be "willfully blind" to ignore the evidence and that there is "zero chance" that MBS is innocent in the matter. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said the crown prince was "complicit in the murder" of Khashoggi. Initially, Saudi authorities had said Khashoggi, who had written articles critical of the crown prince's policies, had disappeared, after safely leaving the consulate.

Fellow Republican Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama said: "Now the question is, how do you separate the Saudi crown prince and his group from the nation?"

"If someone is saying that Secretary Mattis or Secretary Pompeo were dishonest, they just don't know those individuals", Stewart said.

"They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran", Trump said in the statement.

The administration last week sent Mattis and Pompeo to the Capitol, but senators emerged angrier than before, in part because Haspel didn't participate.

Members of the Senate's Committee on Foreign Relations did not mince words after the briefing by CIA Director Gina Haspel on Tuesday.

The fierce spat between the White House and Congress has fueled new levels of support for a resolution that would demand an end to USA involvement in the war in Yemen-a push that could trigger an unprecedented showdown over the US government's authority to wage war.

Saudi authorities said the agents who killed Khashoggi exceeded their authority.

Six top USA senators from across party lines have introduced a scathing resolution to hold the Saudi crown prince accountable for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi more than two months ago. It's not clear whether Haspel will be there, the aide said. "The motion to proceed's going to pass, and we're going to be in a fearless new world", the Connecticut Democrat told Roll Call on Tuesday. "Now's the time to be the leader of the world".

The resolution also called on Saudi Arabia to end a blockade imposed by itself and three other Arab states on Qatar in June past year and seek a political solution in the worst diplomatic rift to have struck the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). In recent months, Mattis - a former Marine four-star popular with lawmakers - has defended other politically controversial moves by the Trump administration, like troop deployments to the USA border and plans to reorganize the military for a Space Force.

According to United States media reports, the Central Intelligence Agency has evidence the Saudi prince exchanged 11 messages with Qahtani, who allegedly oversaw the hit, before and after it was carried out.

Blunt told reporters at the time that the House was unlikley to move on the resolution, and he didn't think a Senate debate on Yemen would be particularly helpful in encouraging the peace process along. The resolution also calls on Riyadh to negotiate with representatives of the Houthi movement in Yemen in an effort to end that country's bloody civil war and subsequent humanitarian crisis.

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