Pompeo to defend role in Yemen before senators

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Lindsey Graham is threatening to shut down any contentious business in the Senate until he gets answers on the killing of a journalist in a Saudi consulate.

The report quoted Egyptian diplomatic sources as saying that the two leaders were attempting to convince as many Arab nations as possible to be neutral toward Israel and to accept economic relations with it, "or at the very least, a state of no war", as part of a broader effort to promote acceptance of US President Donald Trump's so-called "Deal of the Century", aimed at ending the Israeli-Arab conflict.

"Pulling back our limited U.S. military support, our weapons sales to partners and our protection of the Saudi and Emirati populations would be misguided on the eve of the promising initial negotiations", Mattis said in his prepared remarks to senators, referring to the talks in Sweden that UN Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths hopes to convene next month.

A similar effort in March failed to garner enough votes to proceed, but sponsors believe the Khashoggi slaying inspired several more senators to stop prioritising the strategic alliance with Saudi Arabia over its human rights record. Mike Lee of Utah, and Sen.

"If that doesn't constitute hostilities, I don't know what does", he said, becoming animated during his floor speech. A meeting with Trump has not been ruled out by the White House.

The senators' frustration spilled over Wednesday into a procedural vote on a resolution to end US support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. They have also said that they support the UN-led talks. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who has always been a critic of US involvement in Yemen.

Senators after the briefing said they were upset the Trump administration did not allow the Central Intelligence Agency director to brief them on the murder of a Saudi journalist and indicated they would continue to raise the issue, including through legislative means.

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It's "outrageous" and a "cover-up" that the White House refused to send Haspel to join the briefing, ranking Senate Foreign Relations Committee Democrat Bob Menendez told journalists as he emerged from the briefing.

"I think the secretaries made a pretty convincing case that, as outrageous as the [Saudi] behavior is, it would be counterproductive to do that [end USA involvement in the Yemeni conflict]", Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson said. Even if it is ultimately passed, it can not compel an end to the USA intelligence, logistical and diplomatic support for the Saudi campaign. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., that would require the Director of National Intelligence within one month to issue an unclassified report into the individuals that participated in, ordered or "were otherwise complicit in" the death of Khashoggi.

A prosecutor in Argentina has accepted a request to prosecute Mohammed bin Salman, for alleged crimes against humanity, hours after the Saudi Arabia crown prince arrived in the country for the G20 summit.

"We're right on the cusp of that", Pompeo said.

Lawmakers from both parties have signaled they want to punish Saudi Arabia for its role in the murder of writer and activist Jamal Khashoggi.

They opposed any challenge to USA support to the war in Yemen on the grounds that it would strengthen Iran, against which Washington has imposed punishing sanctions and is preparing for war. But the willingness to formally admonish Saudi Arabia grew after Khashoggi, a contributing columnist for The Washington Post, was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and the Trump administration took what many have seen as only modest steps to pursue accountability.

"Saudi Arabia is longtime partner of the United States, but its actions in Yemen and the murder of Khashoggi must have consequences", said Sen.

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