UAE backs Saudi king statement on Khashoggi death

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Saturday voiced its support for Saudi Arabia’s statement about the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to the official news agency WAM.

In a statement, the UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, praised King Salman for his “directives and decisions of Saudi King Salman on the issue of Khashoggi,” WAM reported Saturday.

{mosads}Saudi Arabia said Friday that Khashoggi was killed inside its consulate in Istanbul, claiming he died from a chokehold during a “brawl.” The announcement, which immediately drew skepticism from many in Washington, marked the first time the Saudi government acknowledged that the journalist died within its facility.

President Trump praised the move by Saudi Arabia late Friday as “a great first step,” adding that he found the Saudis’ explanation credible.

“Again, it’s early,” he continued. “We haven’t finished our review or investigation. But I think it’s a very important first step and it happened sooner than people thought it would happen.”

Trump said he would wait to decide how or whether he would punish the kingdom, noting that he did not think Saudi leaders lied to him about Khashoggi’s fate.

Saudi officials had repeatedly denied having knowledge of Khashoggi’s whereabouts in the weeks since he went missing on Oct. 2, saying that the journalist had left the consulate on the day of his disappearance.

Turkish officials, meanwhile, alleged that Khashoggi was tortured, killed and dismembered by 15 Saudi operatives who traveled to Turkey to meet him, adding that they have audio recordings to support their claims. The U.S. has not confirmed the existence of such recordings.

In a statement circulated by state-run media, Saudi Arabia said 18 Saudi nationals were arrested and are being investigated in connection with Khashoggi’s death. Five of the kingdom’s top officials were fired following an initial investigation, including Saud al-Qahtani, a top adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and deputy intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri. 

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