Saudi Arabia Rejects 'Threats' After Trump Comments on Missing Writer
Saudi Arabia warned Sunday it will respond to any "threats" against it as its stock market plunged following President Donald Trump's warning of "severe punishment" over the disappearance of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi.
Trump made a point of visiting the kingdom on his first overseas trip as president and has touted arms sales to Saudi Arabia. But both the White House and the kingdom are under mounting pressure as concern grows over the fate of the veteran journalist, who hasn't been seen since he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
Already, international business leaders are pulling out of the kingdom's upcoming investment forum, a high-profile event known as "Davos in the Desert."
"The kingdom affirms its total rejection of any threats and attempts to undermine it, whether by threatening to impose economic sanctions, using political pressures or repeating false accusations," the statement read. "The kingdom also affirms that if it receives any action, it will respond with greater action, and that the kingdom's economy has an influential and vital role in the global economy."
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The statement from the world's top oil exporter came after the Tadawul exchange in Riyadh dropped by 7 percent at one point during the week's first day of trading, with 182 of its 186 listed stocks showing losses by the early afternoon. The market clawed back some of the losses, trading down over 4 percent later on.
Turkish officials say they fear Saudi agents killed and dismembered Khashoggi after he entered the consulate, saying they have audio and video recordings of it that they have not released. The kingdom has called the allegations "baseless," but has offered no evidence the writer ever left the consulate.
In an interview to be aired Sunday, Trump told CBS' "60 Minutes" that the consequences of Saudi Arabia being involved would be "severe."
"There's something really terrible and disgusting about that, if that was the case, so we're going to have to see," Trump said. "We're going to get to the bottom of it and there will be severe punishment."
However, Trump in the same interview said: "As of this moment, they deny it and they deny it vehemently. Could it be them? Yes."