Saudi King Praises the Crown Prince, Insists Palestinian Issue Top Priority for the Kingdom

The king spoke about the war in Yemen, containing Iran, the Palestinians and offered his unwavering support for bin Salman

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman delivers a speech during the Future Investment Initiative Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia October 24, 2018.
Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz makes his annual address to the kingdom's Shura Council after a national tour with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman amid growing international furor at the implication that the crown prince ordered the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul.

The king's remarks were his first public comment since the murder of Khashoggi early last month which sparked global outcry and strained Riyadh's ties with the West.

The king made no direct mention of the crisis, but he lauded the country's judiciary and public prosecution for carrying out their duty in the service of justice. 

The king spoke about the war in Yemen, containing Iran, the Palestinians and offered his unwavering support for bin Salman. Salman praised the crown prince for the kingdom going through a developmental transformation on all fronts due to his vision 2030 and unprecedented government spending.

>> Why younger Saudis won't fund, facilitate or fight for a Palestinian state | Opinion

The king called on the international community to put an end to Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile program while insisting that the Palestinian issue is still the kingdom's top priority. 

U.S. President Donald Trump said in an interview that aired on Sunday the murder of Khashoggi was "very vicious" but that he wants to stick with Saudi Arabia as a close ally in the Middle East.

Under pressure to punish Saudi Arabia for Khashoggi's death inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, Trump questioned the alleged role of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is known as MbS and is the kingdom's de facto ruler.

"He told me that he had nothing to do with it," Trump said in an interview with "Fox News Sunday", adding that "many people" also said the crown prince had no knowledge of the killing.

The interview was taped on Friday, hours before government sources said the CIA had briefed the Trump administration on the murder and its belief that MbS ordered it.

Trump said on Saturday that the CIA assessment was "very premature" and in the interview that aired on Sunday he said it may never be possible to know who ordered Khashoggi's murder.

"Well, will anybody really know?" he said.

"He did have certainly people that were reasonably close to him and close to him that were probably involved ... But at the same time we do have an ally and I want to stick with an ally that in many ways has been very good."