Nikki Haley Says US 'Can't Give Saudi A Pass' on Khashoggi Murder

TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Nikki Haley, the outgoing US ambassador to the UN, has said the United States should not give Saudi Arabia a pass for the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Nikki Haley Says US 'Can't Give Saudi A Pass' on Khashoggi Murder

Haley, who will leave her position at the end of the year, made her statements in an interview with US publication The Atlantic.

"You have Saudi government officials that did this in a Saudi consulate. We can't give them a pass, because that's not who America is," Haley said in the interview.

"We can't condone [the murder], we can't ever say it's OK, we can't ever support thuggish behavior, and we have to say that," she added, Al Jazeera reported.

Haley also defended the US response to Khashoggi's death, saying that the sanctioning of 17 Saudi nationals allegedly involved in the murder was a sign that the US is not letting this slide.

The Trump administration is "asking for accountability and we need to continue to do until we get it", she added.

But Haley refused to point at Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman despite reports US intelligence agencies have linked the de facto ruler of the country directly to the murder of Khashoggi.

"I think all of that, the administration needs to decide," she said about Salman's alleged involvement.

Haley, who will be replaced by Heather Nauert in January as US ambassador to the UN, also refused to take US President Donald Trump's stance that the murder presented the US with a binary choice between either supporting its ally Saudi Arabia or standing up for human rights and values.

According to Haley, the US is able to see Saudi Arabia as a "complete partner when it comes to fighting Iran" but also tell the Saudis that "we’re not going to continue to be your partners if you continue to use thuggish behavior."

Following the murder, Trump has refused to call out the Saudi leadership for its alleged involvement in the murder, despite US intelligence agencies reportedly presenting him with evidence of it.

Trump has also repeatedly said US arms deals with Saudi Arabia are massively important, while at the same time misstating the amount of money those deals will bring in for the US.

Last month, Trump said that the truth may never come out regarding the Khashoggi murder.

"It could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn't," Trump said in a much criticized statement.

Trump's comments were echoed by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said there was "no direct evidence" linking MBS to the murder.

Their comments, however, were disputed by US Senators who said there was "zero chance" MBS was not involved in the Khashoggi killing after they received a briefing on the case by CIA chief Gina Haspel.

Khashoggi's murder in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul prompted international outcry and forced many countries to reassess their ties with the kingdom.

After weeks of repeated denials that it had any involvement with his disappearance, Riyadh eventually acknowledged that Saudi officials had planned and executed the killing.

The whereabouts of his remains are still unknown.

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