French foreign minister: sanctions against Saudi Arabia possible

PARIS (Reuters) - France doesn’t rule out any sanction against Saudi Arabia if its authorities are found to have been involved in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian speaks during a news conference at the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations in Manhattan, New York, U.S. September 24, 2018. REUTERS/Amr Alfiky

France has called on Saudi Arabia to establish the truth about the case -- having already changed its story several times -- identify those behind the killing and punish them.

“So long as those who are responsible and the circumstances around the killing are not made public, released and evaluated, we will go on demanding the truth,” Le Drian told RTL radio. “So far we don’t have it.”

“We’ll take the necessary measures against those who are responsible,” Le Drian said, adding that France didn’t rule out any sanctions against Saudi Arabia, which is a large buyer of French armaments, luxury products and many other exports.

The death of Khashoggi - a Washington Post columnist and a critic of Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - has sparked global outrage and pitched the world’s top oil exporter into a period of crisis.

Khashoggi disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 and has not been seen since. His body has not been found. Saudi Arabia has admitted he was killed in what it described as a botched rendition attempt.

Western countries have grown increasingly critical of Saudi Arabia over the case, as well as Saudi’s pursuit of its war in Yemen. Germany has said it will stop arm sales to Riyadh.

Le Drian said Germany acted too early. “I think we must wait for the investigation to find the culprits,” he said.

He downplayed the importance of weapon sales to Saudi Arabia for the French economy, saying they represented only 7 percent of the France’s overall weapon exports.

“We are not dependent on Saudi Arabia on that matter,” he said.

Reporting by Inti Landauro; Editing by Luke Baker