Monday Nov 19, 2018
US President Donald Trump has once again defended his administration's decision to pull hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Pakistan, saying the country doesn't do "a damn thing for us".
Speaking to Fox News' Chris Wallace on Sunday, Trump alleged that Pakistan does “not do a damn thing” for the United States and accused Islamabad of helping Osama bin Laden hide there.
"You know, living – think of this – living in Pakistan, beautifully in Pakistan in what I guess they considered a nice mansion, I don’t know, I’ve seen nicer," Trump said, referring to bin Laden and his former compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The compound was demolished shortly after United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group forces killed bin Laden there in a late-night helicopter raid in 2011.
"But living in Pakistan right next to the military academy, everybody in Pakistan knew he was there," he added. "And we give Pakistan $1.3 billion a year . ... [bin Laden] lived in Pakistan, we’re supporting Pakistan, we’re giving them $1.3 billion a year -- which we don’t give them anymore, by the way. I ended it because they don’t do anything for us, they don’t do a damn thing for us."
Trump said he has been fully briefed on an audio recording of journalist Jamal Khashoggi's murder but does not want to listen to it himself.
"Because it's a suffering tape. It's a terrible tape," he said in the interview. "It was very violent, very vicious and terrible."
The CIA has reportedly concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman ordered Khashoggi's assassination in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul October 2.
But the State Department has called those reports "inaccurate," and Trump on Saturday told reporters that the US would release "a very full report" on the matter as early as Monday. He was interviewed by Fox on Friday.
Asked whether the crown prince had lied to him in denying any role in the killing, Trump said: "I don't know. Who can really know? But I can say this, he's got many people ... that say he had no knowledge."
"He told me that he had nothing to do with it. He told me that, I would say, maybe five times at different points, as recently as a few days ago."
Trump acknowledged that people close to the prince "were probably involved" but added, "I want to stick with an ally that in many ways has been very good."
Asked whether he would go along with moves in the US Congress to cut off US involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen or halt arms sales to the kingdom, Trump equivocated.
"I want to see Yemen end. It takes two to tango and Iran has to end also," he said. "I want Saudi to stop but I want Iran to stop also."
The United States has called for a ceasefire and peace talks to end the three-year-old conflict amid a mounting international outcry over the massive civilian toll of air strikes.
US air refueling flights in support of Saudi-led air operations in Yemen ended last week. US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis portrayed that as a Saudi decision.
Saudi Arabia and its ally the United Arab Emirates intervened in the conflict against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in 2015 in support of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.
-- Additional reporting from AFP