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    Saudi Journalist's Disappearance Should Prompt US to Halt Arms Sales - Senator

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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Recent reports about the mysterious disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul should compel the US Senate to cut off weapons sales and military support to the kingdom, Senator Rand Paul said.

    "I am heartened to see others coming to see the abuses of the Saudi regime. Unfortunately, that’s not enough. We sell billions of $ of weapons to them and assist with their war in Yemen. I’m hoping @SenBobCorker and others will now join me in halting arms sales and military support," Paul wrote in a Twitter post.

    Senator Bob Corker on Tuesday expressed concern for Khashoggi's fate, saying he had raised the issue of the journalist's disappearance with the Saudi ambassador in Washington.

    Yemen has been engulfed in an armed conflict between the government forces led by President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi and the Houthi rebels for several years. The Saudi-led coalition of mostly Persian Gulf nations has been carrying out airstrikes against the Houthis at Hadi's request since March 2015.

    "While we await more information, know we will respond accordingly to any state that targets journalists abroad," Corker wrote in a Twitter post, which Paul re-posted along with his remarks.

    READ MORE: Turkish Opposition Urges to Expel Saudi Diplomats Over Khashoggi Disappearance

    Khashoggi went missing last week. According to the journalist's fiancee, Khashoggi was invited to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents needed for his upcoming marriage. The journalist's fiancee stayed outside waiting for Khashoggi for five hours before being told by one of the Consulate General's employees that her fiance had already left.

    Media reports have said that Turkish investigators believe the journalist was murdered inside the consulate, but Saudi Arabia has denied the allegations.

    Last June, Paul and Senator Chris Murphy proposed legislation to block the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia in response to mounting civilian casualties in Yemen, where the kingdom leads an Arab coalition that is waging airstrikes against Houthi rebels. The Senate narrowly defeated the legislation in a 53-47 vote.

    READ MORE: US Calls on Saudi Arabia to Conduct Probe into Khashoggi Disappearance

    But the vote demonstrated that congressional support for halting weapons sales to the kingdom has risen since last year, when senators voted 71-27 against a bill co-authored by Paul that would have blocked weapons sales.

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    journalist, disappearance, US Senate, Turkey, United States, Saudi Arabia
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