Saudi Arabia to hit back in case of sanctions over Jamal Khashoggi Timelines: US-Trump, US-Trump gegen MM

JP Morgan and Ford join ranks of companies pulling out of Saudi conference as UK, Germany and France call for credible investigation

Saudi Arabia has said it will retaliate against any sanctions imposed over the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, as JP Morgan and Ford swelled the ranks of western companies pulling out of a high-profile conference in Riyadh next week.

The diplomatic standoff over the fate of Khashoggi, who has been missing since he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October and is presumed to have been murdered, threatens Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s to reform efforts to reform the kingdom’s economy. The Riyadh stock market had its biggest fall in years on Sunday.

Donald Trump has threatened the US ally with “severe punishment” if Khashoggi, who has been critical of Bin Salman, has been killed.

The French, German and UK foreign secretaries ratcheted up the pressure by releasing a joint statement calling on the Saudi government to give a complete and detailed account of Khashoggi’s disappearance, adding that those found to be responsible must be held to account.

Riyadh vowed to hit back against any action. “The kingdom affirms its total rejection of any threats and attempts to undermine it, whether through economic sanctions, political pressure or repeating false accusations,” it said.

“The kingdom also affirms that if it is [targeted by] any action, it will respond with greater action.” The statement also pointed out that the oil-rich kingdom “plays an effective and vital role in the world economy”.

The country’s foreign ministry issued a series of tweets rejecting the accusations as “attempts to undermine” Saudi Arabia, writing in one post “demise is the outcome of these weak endeavors”.

The Saudi response came after the Tadawul exchange in Riyadh dropped by 7% at one point on Sunday, the week’s first day of trading in Saudi Arabia, with 182 of its 186 listed stocks showing losses by early afternoon. The market later pulled back some of the losses.

Business leaders as well as media companies including Bloomberg and CNN have pulled out of an investment conference next week in Riyadh, dubbed “Davos in the desert”.

Jamie Dimon, the powerful boss of JP Morgan, on Sunday became the latest to say he would not be attending. Ford chief executive Bill Ford also announced he would not be going. Neither gave a reason for the cancellations.