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Trump Defends Saudi Arabia Ties Despite Khashoggi Killing

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks on his phone at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2011.

U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to remain a "steadfast partner" of Saudi Arabia despite international condemnation of the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi last month.

Trump strongly defended ties with Saudi Arabia in a statement on November 20, saying the kingdom agreed to invest a "record amount of money" in the United States.

Khashoggi, a U.S.-based Washington Post columnist and critic of Saudi Arabia's establishment, was killed after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

Officials in the Saudi kingdom have blamed the killing on rogue agents and denied claims that Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman had knowledge of the operation.

"Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event," Trump said.

"In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," the U.S. president added.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later said that the United States was obligated to adopt policies that furthered U.S. national security interests.

Washington has sanctioned 17 Saudi officials suspected of being involved in Khashoggi's killing, but lawmakers have called for harsher actions.

Based on reporting by the BBC, AP, and Reuters