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U.S. focuses on ‘future conduct’ of Saudi Arabia after Khashoggi sanctions: spokesman

LONDON, (The Southern African Times) – The United States is focused on “future conduct” of Saudi Arabia and expects Riyadh to improve its human rights record, a U.S. spokesman said on Monday, after Washington imposed sanctions on some Saudis for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi but fell short of sanctions against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“We are very focused on future conduct and that is part of why we have cast this not as a rupture, but as a recalibration” of U.S.-Saudi relations, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said at a press briefing.

The United States on Friday declassified a report that said the crown prince approved an operation in 2018 to “capture or kill” Khashoggi and issued some sanctions against Saudi nationals and entities. The report was rejected by Saudi Arabia, claiming it “negative, false and unacceptable.”

“We are trying to get to the systemic issues underlying the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” Price said.

The United States welcomed the recent release of two human rights activists in Saudi Arabia, Price said, but asked Riyadh to do more by lifting the travel ban on them.

“We are urging Saudi Arabia to take additional steps – to lift travel bans on those released, to commute sentences and resolve cases such as those women’s rights activists and others,” he said.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Monday that the United States reserved the right to sanction Mohammed bin Salman.

Khashoggi, a U.S. resident who wrote for the opinion section of the Washington Post, was killed and dismembered by a team of operatives in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.

(With input from Reuters)

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