Khashoggi murder demands a ‘considered’ response – Hunt
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul was ‘incredibly shocking’.
The murder of Jamal Khashoggi will be met with a careful response, Jeremy Hunt said as fresh details of the journalist’s death emerged.
A Turkish prosecutor said Mr Khashoggi was strangled as soon as he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul as part of a premeditated killing.
The Foreign Secretary said the murder was “incredibly shocking” but he also highlighted Saudi Arabia’s importance for the UK arms industry and the risk of any unintended consequences a response may produce in the unstable Middle East.
The Foreign Secretary’s comments came after chief Istanbul prosecutor Irfan Fidan said that Mr Khashoggi was dismembered and his body disposed of after his death at the consulate.
Mr Hunt told the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee: “The Khashoggi murder is incredibly shocking. I have spoken more openly and more strongly about it than any Western foreign minister that I am aware of.
“I made it very clear that if the press stories were true – and it appears increasingly likely that they are true – then what happened would be completely contrary to our values.”
But he added: “Our response has to be considered, for two reasons. Firstly, we do have a commercial relationship and there are jobs in the UK – in the North West and the South West – that are at stake.”
The process for granting licences for arms exports had been followed, he said.
The second consideration was the risk of “unintended consequences” any response could have in the highly sensitive region, where Saudi Arabia is a key ally.
“There is a very challenging situation in the Middle East, there is a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran in Yemen, this has the potential to escalate into a much bigger and more dangerous conflict,” he warned.
“There is always the risk of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons.
“I just think in that context – and looking at other interventions that we have made in that region in the last 20 years – we just have to be very careful about any action we take that there aren’t unintended consequences.
“That’s why I do think it is important to be considered in this case.”