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Trump refuses to cancel Saudi arms deals despite Khashoggi ‘cover-up’ claims

US President Donald Trump has refused to cancel lucrative arms deals with Saudi Arabia, despite global condemnation of the despotic kingdom over the brutal murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi earlier this month.

Riyadh stands accused of a cover-up after finally conceding on Friday night that Mr Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, after he entered it on October 2 to collect routine papers for his forthcoming wedding. 

However, although Saudi claims that he died after a “fist fight” with security service personnel have been widely dismissed, Mr Trump told reporters that their version of events sounded “credible.”

Speaking today during a tour of Nevada, the US president said he would not scrap an arms deal with Riyadh, which has been accused of war crimes in its three-year bombardment of Yemen, for fear of job losses in the US.

“We have $450 billion (£345bn), $110bn (£84bn) of which is a military order, but this is equipment and various things ordered from Saudi Arabia.

“It’s over a million jobs. That’s not helpful for us to cancel an order like that. That hurts us far more than it hurts them,” he claimed.

However, the Committee for the Protection of Journalists branded the Saudi account of Mr Khashoggi’s death “ridiculous” and demanded an international investigation after 18 Saudi officials were arrested by Riyadh.

Spokesman Joel Simon said the admission that the writer had been killed was no consolation, warning that the same government that lied to the world for weeks over his fate “expects us to believe he died in a fight.

“This ridiculous assertion is further evidence of a cover-up. We need an international investigation and relentless pressure on Saudi Arabia from the Trump administration if we ever hope to get to the truth.”

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