Canada sanctions 17 Saudi nationals over Khashoggi killing

G20 PM Modi meets Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discusses 'economic and energy ties'

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Trump has defended Salman and the Saudis involvement in Yemen, and administration officials have said there is no reporting that definitively links the Saudi prince to Khashoggi's murder.

He told reporters that the testimony was "interesting, but not persuasive" because she was absent.

However symbolic, the shift in the Senate-which last March tabled the same measure by a vote of 55 to 44-is bound up with the naked exposure of the criminality of the Saudi regime-Washington's principal ally in the Arab world-by the savage assassination of journalist and former regime insider Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

Wednesday's vote is a victory for senators Bernie Sanders, Chris Murphy, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul, who have always been pushing for an end to USA support for the Saudi intervention.

A bipartisan proposal to block any further U.S. military assistance to the Saudi-led coalition waging war in Yemen is one step closer to being adopted, after the Senate voted 63-37 on Wednesday to allow a floor vote on the resolution.

Pompeo told reporters after the briefing that there was "no direct" evidence linking the crown prince to the murder, but senators remained unconvinced and frustrated.

Although the USA imposed sanctions on 17 Saudi officials who were allegedly involved in Khashoggi's murder, Trump has been hesitant to take further steps, noting that Washington's intent to remain a close ally of Riyadh. Earlier this month, US officials revealed the Central Intelligence Agency believes the Crown Prince ordered Mr. Khashoggi's killing - contradicting Riyadh's claim that he was not involved in the murder. "Anything that you need me for to get out of town - I ain't doing it until we hear from the Central Intelligence Agency".

A poster depicting a figure resembling Mohammed bin Salman holding a chainsaw, a reference to Khashoggi's dismemberment inside the consulate, was hung from the headquarters of the National Syndicate of Tunisian Journalists.

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Several senators complained about the absence of CIA Director Gina Haspel from the closed-door session. Pompeo and the Defense Secretary James Mattis were due to give a briefing on US relations with Saudi Arabia yesterday to the entire Senate behind closed doors. "The longer we enable the conflict to continue, the more innocent men, women and children will die", said Sen. "We were told at this briefing that it was at the direction of the White House that she not attend".

The resolution, drafted by Independent Senator Bernie Sanders and Republican Senator Mike Lee, seeks to invoke the War Powers Act to end USmilitary support for the Saudi-led coalition.

Pompeo underscored that some people are using the Khashoggi murder with ulterior motives to undermine Trump's Saudi Arabia policy and support rapprochement with Iran.

"There are strike-all amendments that would be too weak for me to support and I imagine the other cosponsors to support", Murphy said.

And Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican who is often strongly allied with Trump, voted to move forward with the resolution and said he would insist on a briefing from Haspel.

"The Khashoggi incident has also gotten a lot of people's attention", said Sen.

Senators on both sides of the political divide, many of whom have historically backed the US-Saudi relationship, have vented their anger over the killing and have pulled their support for the war in Yemen in an attempt to communicate their displeasure. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., that would require the Director of National Intelligence within one month to issue an unclassified report into the individuals that participated in, ordered or "were otherwise complicit in" the death of Khashoggi.

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