Steven Mnuchin Pulls Out of Saudi Conference, as Pompeo Urges Caution

Secretary of State: ‘We ought to give them a few more days’ to complete Khashoggi investigation

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testifies during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in July. On Thursday he said he was reserving judgment on what happened to Jamal Khashoggi. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 11:55 a.m. | Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has decided, after consultation with President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, not to attend a high-profile investors conference in Saudi Arabia, he tweeted Thursday.

The announcement came amid bipartisan outrage over the kingdom’s suspected involvement in the disappearance of a dissident journalist.

Pompeo said Thursday that the U.S. should give Saudi Arabia a little bit of time to complete an investigation of the circumstances of the death of Jamal Khashoggi.

“I told President Trump this morning that we ought to give them a few more days to complete that so that, we too, have a complete understanding of the facts surrounding that, at which point we can make decisions about how or if the U.S. should respond,” Pompeo told reporters outside the White House.

Speaking just after a meeting with President Donald Trump, the secretary of State said Turkey was also conducting an investigation of what happened to Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. But he would not pass judgment on Saudi security services or on the role of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“There are lots of stories out there about what has happened,” Pompeo said. “We are just going to allow the process to move forward, allow the facts to unfold. And as they unfold, as we make a determination for ourselves about what happened there based on the facts that are presented to us, the United States will determine what the appropriate response might be.”

Pompeo also emphasized the relationship between the United States and the Kingdom, even as many on Capitol Hill are calling for sanctions.

“We have a long, since 1932, a long strategic relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They continue to be an important counterterrorism partner. They have custody of the two holy sites,” Pompeo said. “They are an important strategic alliance of the United States, and we need to be mindful of that as well.”

Rachel Oswald contributed to this report.

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