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Sat 13 Oct 2018 01:10 AM

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UAE backs Saudi Arabia, decries 'vicious campaign'

UAE State Minister for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash warns that the repercussions of politically targeting Saudi Arabia would be dire

UAE backs Saudi Arabia, decries 'vicious campaign'
UAE state minister for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash.

UAE State Minister for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash has offered his support to Saudi Arabia, saying the kingdom is the victim of a "vicious campaign" over missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

In a tweet to his 865,000 followers, Gargash warned that the repercussions of politically targeting Saudi Arabia would be dire.

“The vicious campaign against Riyadh and the coordination between those inciting it is expected," he said, adding: "Since there is an urgent need to clarify the humanitarian aspect of the situation, the repercussions for politically targeting Saudi Arabia will be grave for those behind it. The bottom-line is that Saudi Arabia’s success is the best choice for both the region and its citizens.”

Khashoggi was last seen in public on October 2 as he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Saudi Arabia's interior minister rejected Saturday claims there were orders to kill Khashoggi, describing them as "baseless allegations and lies".

Prince Abdel Aziz bin Saud bin Nayef added that his country was "in compliance with international laws and conventions," the official Saudi Press Agency reported him saying.

On Friday, Saudi Arabia welcomed a joint investigation with Turkey into the "circumstances" of the disappearance of Khashoggi, SPA tweeted.

"Official source welcomes the response of the Republic of Turkey to the request of Saudi Arabia to form a joint team... of specialists" from both countries "to investigate the circumstances of the disappearance of Saudi citizen, Jamal Khashoggi", SPA said on Twitter.

In a separate English-language statement, the agency quoted an official source as expressing "appreciation" for such a move and "reaffirming full confidence" in the work of "the joint action team... to carry out their set assignments in the best of ways".

A Saudi delegation arrived in Turkey on Friday for talks on the case, a day after Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said a joint working group would be set up to look into Khashoggi's disappearance.

Earlier, British entrepreneur Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group, announced he is suspending two directorships linked to tourism projects in Saudi Arabia around the Red Sea due to the unexplained disappearance of Khashoggi.

Branson said he had "high hopes" for Saudi Arabia under the crown prince but added if the claims about Khashoggi's disappearance were true it would "clearly change the ability of any of us in the West to do business with the Saudi government."

He added Virgin would suspend discussions with Saudi Arabia over a proposed investment in Virgin Galactic, which is set to carry out its first space flight within weeks.