US President Donald Trump has defended his decision not to hold Saudi rulers accountable in the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying maintaining strategic ties with the kingdom and keeping the global oil prices down were in the best interests of America.
The death of Khashoggi, a onetime insider turned critic of the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, and a resident of the US, has spurred a wave of international anger against Saudi Arabia and its rulers.
“We’re not going to give up hundreds of billions of dollars in orders and let Russia, China and everybody else have them. It’s all about — for me — very simple, it’s America first,” he said.
“Saudi Arabia, if we broke with them, I think your oil prices would go through the roof. I’ve kept them down. They’ve helped me keep them down. Right now, we have low oil prices, or relatively I’d like to see it go down even lower.
“But I think that it’s a very simple equation for me. I’m about making America great again and I’m about America first,” Trump argued.
Saudi Arabia, Trump said, is buying hundreds of billions of dollars worth of things from the US.
“If I say we don’t want to take your business, if I say we’re going to cut it off, they will get the equipment — military equipment and other things — from Russia and China,” he said, adding that in that case the two countries would be “very, very happy” because right now the US is doing “very well” against China.
Noting that the oil prices right now are in a great shape, Trump insisted that he is not going to destroy the world economy.
“I’m not going to destroy the economy for our country by being foolish with Saudi Arabia,” he added.