The government of Saudi Arabia on Sunday vowed to retaliate with "greater action" if the Trump administration follows through on punishing that country for its alleged involvement in the apparent murder of a dissident earlier this month, Fox News reported.
Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi government critic, entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 and then disappeared.
President Donald Trump said that country could face "severe punishment" if Khashoggi, a legal resident of the U.S., was killed inside the consulate.
Trump made the comment during a "60 Minutes" interview with host Lesley Stahl.
"There will be severe punishment." In his first 60 Minutes interview since taking office, President Trump tells Les… https://t.co/aZWTbmkWYj— 60 Minutes (@60 Minutes) 1539428817.0
In a statement by the Saudi Press Agency, the government denied any involvement: "The Kingdom affirms its total rejection of any threats and attempts to undermine it, whether by waving economic sanctions, using political pressure, or repeating false accusations.”
"The Kingdom also affirms that if it receives any action, it will respond with greater action, [and] that the Kingdom's economy has an influential and vital role in the global economy," it continued.
On Sunday, the Saudi Embassy followed up by writing on Twitter: "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia extends...appreciation to all, including the US administration, for refraining from jumping to conclusions on the ongoing investigation."
To help clarify recently issued Saudi statement, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia extends it appreciation to all, includ… https://t.co/6ss05kwteR— Saudi Embassy (@Saudi Embassy) 1539534197.0
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is still scheduled to attend the Oct. 23 Future Investment Initiative in Saudi Arabia, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox News.
The meeting is on, even though several officials and media companies have pulled out of the conference due to the Khashoggi’s disappearance.
"That meeting .... is about terrorists’ financing and how to stop it – it’s a very important meeting," Kudlow said.
He added: "If Khashoggi was harmed, [Trump] will take action. ... When the president speaks, when the president warns, people should take him at his word. Obviously, he is very, very serious."
What about the arms deal?
Trump has said he probably will not cancel a $110 billion arms deal with the Saudi government because that could unnecessarily harm the U.S.
In a statement, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), demanded a action from the Trump administration.
"Since Saudi arms are being used to ravage Yemen and they are apparently complicit in the disappearance of Mr. Khashoggi, I cannot support President Trump’s proposed arms sale," Durbin said. "Secretary Mnuchin should immediately cancel his upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia and after a two year delay, the Trump Administration should finally nominate a U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia."
Turkish officials have said they have audio and video that proves Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul earlier this month. If true, it would provide hard evidence to support Ankara government's claim that a 15-member assassination squad was waiting at the consulate to apprehend Khashoggi, kill him and then dismember him.