Trump: Middle East is 'a nasty part of the world'

Trump: Middle East is 'a nasty part of the world'

President TrumpDonald John Trump5 things to know about Boris Johnson Conservatives erupt in outrage against budget deal Trump says Omar will help him win Minnesota MORE on Tuesday referred to the Middle East as a "nasty part of the world" while addressing both the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and human rights abuses committed by Iran. 

The president made the comments amid a growing crisis over the death of Khashoggi, who Turkish officials say was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier in October. His death has led to calls from Republicans and Democrats alike to condemn Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and end a $110 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia. 

While discussing the crisis on Tuesday, he pointed to the various human rights abuses committed by Iran, a longtime foe of Saudi Arabia.

"And if you look at the other side, Iran, you look at what they've done to people, vicious, horrible," the president told reporters in the Oval Office.

"And that's no excuse for what happened with Saudi Arabia. No excuse whatsoever," Trump said, regarding Iran's human rights abuses. "But you take a look, it's a rough part of the world. It's a nasty place. It's a nasty part of the world."

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"But if what happened happened and if the facts check out, then it's something that's very bad," Trump said, referring to the various reports of Khashoggi's murder.

Trump nonetheless defended Saudi Arabia, calling the country "a very good ally of ours" and adding that they have "been helping us a lot with respect to Israel. They've been funding a lot of things."

Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have long allied themselves against Iran, which has been fighting the Saudis in a proxy war in Yemen and is also allied with Russia and Syrian President Bashar Assad in Syria.

Saudi Arabia initially denied the reports of Khashoggi's death, first saying the journalist left the building the day he disappeared, then announcing that an investigation discovered Khashoggi was killed in a brawl gone wrong.

Trump criticized the kingdom in separate remarks on Tuesday, saying Saudi Arabia's efforts were the "worst cover-up ever."

The president previously said that there would be severe punishment for those found to be involved in Khashoggi's death. 

"I will tell you that Russia and China would love to have that military order," Trump said of Saudi Arabia. "I mean, they would love, this is $110 billion worth of military and Russia would pick that up very quickly and China would pick it up very quickly."