Relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia are under review despite Khashoggi’s immunity ruling: Blinkin

Relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia are still under review, despite the Biden administration's decision that the Saudi crown prince is protected against prosecution In connection with the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday.

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Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist living in the United States at the time, was shot and dismembered in 2018 by Saudi agents at the Kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul in an operation believed to have been ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The prince denied having ordered the murder, which threw a veil on the relations between the two countries.

Khashoggi’s fiancée sued the prince in the United States, but in a judgment last week, lawyers from the United States Department of Justice concluded that the prince had immunity following his appointment as premier in the Saudi government in September.

“The opinion that we provided does not in any way speak to the merits of the case or the status of the bilateral relationship,” Blinken said.

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“We continue to examine this relationship,” he said at a press conference in Qatar after an annual strategic dialogue between the United States and Qatar. Blinken also said that he had no plan to visit the United States.

The Biden administration made its decision last week in an era of increased tensions between Washington and Riyadh over energy supply. After the OPEC+ oil group decided at its last meeting to cut production targets over American objections.

Blinken said that the legal advice that the prince was entitled to immunity was based on “longstanding practice” observed in “hundreds of cases”.

In any case, we simply respect the law. And that’s what we did,” he continued.

The decision was criticised by the fiancée of the assassinated journalist, Hatice Cengiz, who filed the complaint jointly with a human rights group founded by Khashoggi.

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