France weighs interests in Khashoggi crisis, Saudi sanctions an option
France said on Wednesday it could impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia if its intelligence services find the kingdom was behind the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, even as Paris worked to maintain important business and strategic ties with Riyadh, Reuters reports.
French reaction has been relatively guarded to date, as Paris sought to retain its influence with Riyadh and protect commercial relations spanning energy, finance and arms.
“As long as the facts have not been clearly established, and corroborated by our information services, we will not take any decision,” government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said.
“On the other hand, once light has been shed on the matter and has been corroborated by our services, based on the hypothesis that Saudi Arabia’s responsibility has been proved, then we would draw the necessary conclusions and impose appropriate sanctions,” he said.
Any steps would not just involve sanctions on arms sales he said, without elaborating.
Earlier, a French presidency source said there would be no “hasty decision”.
Other major Western allies of Saudi Arabia have already spoken out. U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may be behind Khashoggi’s death. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called Khashoggi’s killing a “monstrosity” and vowed to halt German arms exports.
Britain, like France a major weapons supplier to the kingdom, has said a Saudi explanation that Khashoggi died in a fight in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul were not credible. Prime Minister Theresa May said on Wednesday Britain would prevent all suspects in his death from entering the UK.