Saudi Arabia condemns US Senate ‘interference’ over Jamal Khashoggi murder

Saudi Arabia has strongly denounced US Senate resolutions which called for an end to American support for Saudi forces in Yemen and blamed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.   

The kingdom released an unusually forceful statement after both Democrat and Republican senators defied the White House and voted through the largely symbolic resolutions criticising Saudi Arabia.  

"The Kingdom categorically rejects any interference in its internal affairs, any and all accusations, in any manner, that disrespect its leadership… and any attempts to undermine its sovereignty or diminish its stature,” the Saudi foreign ministry said.

While Donald Trump has said he plans to stand by Saudi Arabia, the US-Saudi relationship is under increasing scrutiny from Congress and the American public after the death of Mr Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist.  

The Senate resolutions have no legal weight but will add to pressure on Mr Trump over his administration’s close ties to the kingdom’s leaders. 

How the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi unfolded

Saudi Arabia insists Crown Prince Mohammed was not aware of the plan to kill Mr Khashoggi, even though one of his closest aides and several members of his security entourage were allegedly involved. 

The kingdom argues that its bombing campaign in Yemen is in self-defence against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels who have fired ballistic missiles into Saudi territory. Human rights groups say indiscriminate Saudi bombing and a harsh blockade have killed thousands of civilians. 

A UN-brokered ceasefire deal is due to go into effect Tuesday in the key port city of Hodeidah after peace talks between the Houthis and the Yemeni government in Sweden last week. 

The agreement was looking shaky after intense fighting in Hodeidah over the weekend but UN officials said they were optimistic that the truce would go ahead. Residents reported sporadic fighting around the city on Monday. 

A sustained ceasefire could be a major step towards a larger peace deal to end the three-year war, which is believed to have killed tens of thousands of people and brought millions of Yemenis to the brink of starvation. 

Aid groups have warned that a full-on Saudi offensive in Hodeidah could destroy port facilities and stop badly-needed humanitarian supplies from reaching civilians.

Since the coalition launched its campaign in 2015, the conflict has killed nearly 10,000 people, according to the World Health Organisation. But some rights groups believe the toll to be far higher.

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