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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Read George Will’s full statement on the Khashoggi case

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There have been private meetings, secret meetings, much, much more private and some very pointed public meetings, about what has gone wrong, and what should be done about it. We have heard not just from Saudi’s governmental leaders and the Saudi crown prince but have even heard from the highest echelons of the administration. And I personally participated in some of those meetings. What did come out of them? Did Saudi Arabia, which is named in the federal indictment against Kushner and Bannon as a hostile government, acknowledge the wrongs that occurred and say: We are sorry, we are sorry, we are sorry?

I remain cautiously optimistic because we do not have a verifiable record of what has gone on. We do not know whether Saudi officials have offered to take down the walls and open the entrances so that Saudis and Americans can work together and be briefed together; whether the Saudis have suggested anything other than the perennial willingness to do business, despite differences of opinion, and at what point the President was actually consulted and whether he signed off on any change in the relationship.

I also remain cautiously optimistic because I think it is important to keep the relationship alive and not to sever it before we fully understand what has happened. The Saudis have publicly promised us that they are going to cooperate fully with our investigations, that they are going to let us play on their soil. They have also said that they are going to compensate U.S. firms who were damaged by an ill-advised relationship with the Crown Prince. You will notice that the Saudi response since this entire controversy erupted has been remarkably polite, gentlemanly, that they are not mad at me and let me return their phone calls. I think it is important to keep the relationship as active as possible and to give it at least a chance to be repaired.

I also strongly feel that the United States and Saudi Arabia should not neglect the fact that we have very important mutual interests and that the failures that have occurred and that this President publicly acknowledges as the reason for the relationship are not a reason to disengage.

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