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Blinken did not address why the United States fell short of imposing sanctions on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who the report said approved an operation to kill Khashoggi in 2018, but said that a number of steps were taken on Friday to prevent similar conduct by the kingdom in future.
Given the fact that the CIA has concluded that Muhammad bin Salman personally approved the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, can you explain why he is not being punished in these decisions?
ANTONY BLINKEN: Well Andrea, I think the report speaks-- speaks for itself. And I think you've seen today a number of very important steps to recalibrate the relationship. First of all, the release of the report itself and the transparency that that provides. This is a report that-- that, in a sense, is not fresh off the printing press. It's been there. We released it. We were determined to bring transparency to this issue.
The Department of the Treasury is sanctioning former Saudi Deputy Head of General Intelligence Ahmed al-Asiri for his direct role in the Istanbul operation that murdered Mr. Khashoggi. We have taken action pursuant to what we're calling the Khashoggi ban to impose visa restrictions on 76 Saudi individuals believed to have been engaged in threatening dissidents overseas, including but not limited to the Khashoggi killing.
And importantly, we have introduced and announced a new policy that will apply the State Department's ability to restrict and revoke visas to any individual believed to be involved in extraterritorial activities. Targeting perceived dissidents or journalists. Trying to harass them, surveil them, harm them or their families. Because this practice, this conduct, whether it's by Saudi Arabia or anyone else, is totally unacceptable and we now have a new tool to push back against that.
- One quick thing on Muhammad bin Salman. Can the US still do business with him?
ANTONY BLINKEN: As I said earlier, the relationship with Saudi Arabia is bigger than any one individual. The president engaged, as you know, with King Salman. I've spoken to my counterpart, the foreign minister, and Secretary Austin have spoken to his counterpart, who happens to be Mohammed bin Salman.