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France ready to back sanctions against Saudi Arabia

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France is ready to back "international sanctions" against those responsible for the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Elysee Palace said on Wednesday following a telephone conversation between President Emmanuel Macron and Saudi King Salman

The French president "informed (King Salman) of his profound indignation at the crime and demanded that all possible light be shone on the circumstances that led to this drama", his office said in a statement quoted by AFP.

Khashoggi has been missing since October 2, when he was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The Turkish government has accused Saudi Arabia of murdering the dissident journalist and chopping his body into pieces.

Saudi Arabia admitted for the first time on Friday that Khashoggi was killed after entering the consulate in Istanbul, after previously denying Turkish claims that he was murdered.

Khashoggi, who was also a US citizen and a contributor to The Washington Post, was a fierce critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and his policies.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on Sunday said the killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul was not ordered by the Crown Prince and insisted that the kingdom did not know where Khashoggi’s body was.

Macron told the Saudi king that France's main priority was "defending freedom of expression, freedom of the press and of the public. France will not hesitate to take international sanctions, together with its international partners, against the guilty", Wednesday’s statement said, according to AFP.

The crown prince on Wednesday called the killing "repulsive". Western countries have demanded a thorough and transparent investigation.

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday ramped up his rhetoric against Saudi Arabia over the death of Khashoggi, describing the kingdom’s efforts to hide the journalist’s killing as the “worst cover-up ever.”

The United States has threatened sanctions if the Saudi leadership is linked to the murder, and on Tuesday revoked the visas of 21 Saudi nationals implicated in the crime.

France said earlier Wednesday it would take "punitive measures" if Saudi Arabia is "proven" to be behind the murder.
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