U.K. Pledges ‘Serious’ Response to Saudi Arabia Over Khashoggi Killing

(Bloomberg) -- U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt promised to take "serious" measures against Saudi Arabia for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but said he would wait for the results of an investigation before taking action.

Hunt told lawmakers that Saudi Arabia’s explanations to date aren’t "credible," and that needs to change. He’s expecting the results of a Turkish investigation within days and said any action would be coordinated with allies.

"If the appalling stories we are reading turn out to be true, they are fundamentally incompatible with our values and we will act accordingly," he told Parliament in London on Monday.

But he also said the government’s assessment must be "thoughtful and considered," as the U.K. has security ties with Saudi Arabia and business interests such as defense deals that could affect thousands of jobs. Hunt left the door open to Saudi Arabia if it’s able to convince the U.K. that it’s committed to making sure such violations would never happen again.

"That is why the extent to which Saudi Arabia is able to convince us that it remains committed to that progress will ultimately determine the response of the U.K. and its allies," Hunt said.

Saudi Arabia’s account of the death of Khashoggi in its consulate in Istanbul has changed since reports of the killing first emerged. The kingdom acknowledged over the weekend that the Washington Post contributor was killed inside the consulate, characterizing his death as accidental. On Sunday, Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said the killing was carried out by a “rogue operation” that then tried to cover it up. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had had no knowledge of the plot, he said.

In response, France has demanded more information, while Germany put arms sales to the country on hold. In the U.S., the Trump administration stressed the vital importance of the kingdom and its economy to the U.S. while Republican and Democratic lawmakers said they suspected knowledge of the killing reached the highest levels of the Saudi regime.

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