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Monday, 21 January 2019

US Treasury Secretary says premature to comment on sanctions against Saudi Arabia

Reuters , Sunday 21 Oct 2018
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U.S. President Donald Trump acknowledges the audience during a campaign rally at Elko Regional Airport in Elko, Nevada, U.S., October 20, 2018. (Photo: Reuters)
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U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Sunday it was premature to comment on possible U.S. sanctions against Saudi Arabia for the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi until an investigation had been completed.

Mnuchin said information so far on the investigation was "a good first step but not enough" as Riyadh faced increasing international pressure over what happened to Khashoggi, who disappeared after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who has said the United States would consider sanctions against Saudi Arabia, emphasized on Saturday that he was not satisfied with the Saudis' handling of the case.

"It would be premature to comment on sanctions and premature to comment on really any issues until we get further down the investigation and get to the bottom of what occurred," Mnuchin told reporters in Jerusalem.

Mnuchin confirmed that he would not attend a Saudi investment conference on Tuesday. However, he said he would visit Riyadh as planned for talks with his counterpart on joint efforts to counter terrorist financing and plans by Washington to reimpose sanctions against Iran in November.

"I did not think it was appropriate to go and speak at this conference but we continue to have important issues with Saudi and that is why I am going there," Mnuchin said.

The visit, he said, was necessary as Washington prepares to reimpose sanctions against Iran.

He said he had no reason to believe that Saudi Arabia would renege on commitments to make up for any shortfall in global oil supplies as Iranian oil exports are curbed under the sanctions.

"I have no reason to believe that they are not going to honor those commitments," said Mnuchin, who will meet Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih while in Riyadh.

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