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Lindsey Graham of SC, introduced legislation Friday that would prohibit certain arms sales to Saudi Arabia in response to the killing of Khashoggi and its role in Yemen. He is also reluctant to disturb the strategic relationship with the kingdom, seen as an important regional counterbalance to Iran.

"The President maintains his discretion to decline to act on congressional committee requests when appropriate", a senior administration official said in an emailed statement.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with Vice Media Executive Chairman Shane Smith last August on a yacht in the Red Sea to discuss the proposal.

Senators wrote in October demanding the murder be investigated and that the White House give more information.

Riyadh, which initially denied knowledge of Khashoggi's disappearance before offering contradictory explanations, has steadfastly insisted the prince was not involved in the killing.

Four months since his murder, Khashoggi's body has not been found.

The conversation appears to have been recently analysed as part of an effort by U.S. intelligence agencies to find proof of who was responsible for Khashoggi's death.

The prince suggested that if Khashoggi did not willingly return to Saudi Arabia, he might have to be brought back forcibly, the Times reported.

A department spokesman pointed to last year's revocation of visas for almost two dozen Saudi officials and the freezing of assets of 17 others after Khashoggi's murder. Jubeir explained that the case is handled by the judiciary, where the first session of the trial of 11 people was held at the beginning of this year, adding that the second trial was open to the public and humanitarian organizations.

The New York Times, citing officials who had seen U.S. intelligence, said Prince Mohammed had warned in an intercepted conversation with an aide in 2017 that he would go after Khashoggi "with a bullet" if he did not return to Saudi Arabia from the United States.

Agnes Callamard, an independent United Nations human rights expert, has criticized the kingdom for its lack of transparency in the proceedings over the grisly slaying.

The Trump administration signaled on Friday it was unlikely to meet a deadline to report to Congress on whether it intends to impose sanctions on those responsible for the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, prompting an angry backlash on Capitol Hill.

The Saudi prosecutor said Saud al-Qahtani, a close adviser to the crown prince, played a role in coordinating the murder but it's unclear whether he's facing charges.

It is unclear if any of the 17 are on trial.

United States intelligence analysts have interpreted the "bullet" comment metaphorically, meaning the crown prince did not necessarily mean to have Khashoggi shot, but they do think it showed his intent to have the journalist killed if he did not return to the kingdom, the Times said.


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