Saudi foreign minister says kingdom united around its leadership

FILE PHOTO: Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir speaks during a news conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia November 15, 2018. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said on Wednesday the kingdom is united around its leadership, dismissing as “ridiculous” reports that members of the Saudi royal family want to see a change in the line of succession.

Asked in an interview by CNBC about a Reuters report that members of the royal family are discussing the possibility of changing the line of succession, but not while King Salman is alive, Adel al-Jubeir said:

“These are outrageous comments that are being made and are totally unacceptable.”

In a statement Reuters said: “We stand by our story.”

Reuters had quoted three sources close to the royal court as saying that amid international uproar over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, some members of Saudi Arabia’s ruling family are agitating to prevent Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from becoming king.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is unified on this issue, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is committed to its leadership, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is committed to the vision that our leaders have put forth for us in terms of Vision 2030 and in terms of moving along the path of reform,” Jubeir said.

The killing of Khashoggi, a prominent critic of the crown prince, in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last month has drawn global condemnation, including from many politicians and officials in the United States, a key Saudi ally.

The CIA believes the crown prince ordered the killing, according to U.S. sources familiar with the assessment. President Donald Trump vowed on Tuesday to remain a “steadfast partner” of Saudi Arabia despite saying that Prince Mohammed may have known about the plan to murder Khashoggi.

“We have made it very clear that Saudi Arabia’s government is not involved in this (Khashoggi’s murder) and the crown prince is not involved in this, at all,” Jubeir told CNBC.

Editing by Robin Pomeroy