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US President Donald Trump on Tuesday cited Israel in reaffirming his support for Saudi Arabia, despite the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last month.

In a statement, Trump said that “Saudi Arabia would gladly withdraw from Yemen if the Iranians would agree to leave. They would immediately provide desperately needed humanitarian assistance. Additionally, Saudi Arabia has agreed to spend billions of dollars in leading the fight against Radical Islamic Terrorism.”

The president stressed that the “crime against Jamal Khashoggi was a terrible one, and one that our country does not condone. Indeed, we have taken strong action against those already known to have participated in the murder. After great independent research, we now know many details of this horrible crime. We have already sanctioned 17 Saudis known to have been involved in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi, and the disposal of his body.”

He further noted that “King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”

Trump acknowledged that “we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran. The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region. It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world!”

Trump also said that he would “consider whatever ideas are presented to me” regarding measures against the Saudis “but only if they are consistent with the absolute security and safety of America.”

“After the United States, Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producing nation in the world. They have worked closely with us and have been very responsive to my requests to keeping oil prices at reasonable levels – so important for the world. As President of the United States I intend to ensure that, in a very dangerous world, America is pursuing its national interests and vigorously contesting countries that wish to do us harm. Very simply it is called America First!” he concluded.

The Turkish government has accused Saudi Arabia of murdering the dissident journalist, who was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, and chopping his body into pieces.

Saudi Arabia admitted for the first time several weeks ago that Khashoggi was killed after entering the consulate in Istanbul, after previously denying Turkish claims that he was murdered. At the same time, the Saudi leadership claimed Khashoggi was killed in a “rogue” operation.

Regarding Israel, there have been reports in recent years that Saudi Arabia and Israel have been getting closer but the Saudis have repeatedly denied them and have conditioned ties with Israel on it accepting the 2002 Saudi Peace Initiative.

Nevertheless, Tuesday’s statement marks the second time in recent weeks that Trump has mentioned Saudi Arabia and Israel in the same context.

Last month, Trump said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that if the Saudi Crown Prince was found to be involved in the murder of Khashoggi, it would be a blow to the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia and the matter would have a negative impact on the Middle East.

Trump explained, "If you look at what they’re doing, they’ve been a very good ally with respect to Iran and with respect to Israel. And it would be a—it would be an—it would be a very, very big change if we—you know, we have a very, very strong and positive thing going on in the Middle East for the first time in many years."

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