Saudi King Salman gives his annual policy speech in the ornate hall of the consultative Shura Council, Nov. 19, 2018, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Saudi King Salman gives his annual policy speech in the ornate hall of the consultative Shura Council, Nov. 19, 2018, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA - Saudi King Salman broke his long-running public silence since the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi to make his annual policy speech.

During the address he praised the Kingdom's judicial system, a week after it exonerated Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is widely believed to have ordered the assassination.

But the king made no mention of allegations the young royal ordered the killing.

"The kingdom was founded on Islamic principles of justice and equality, and we are proud of the efforts of the judiciary and the public prosecution," the king said in his annual address to the Shura Council, a legislative body that serves him.

A Saudi prosecutor cleared the crown prince of wrongdoing last week while calling for the death penalty for five men, announcing indictments against 11. The prosecutor said a total of 21 people had been detained in connection with the killing.

Photo provided by the Saudi Press Agency, SPA, Cro
Photo provided by the Saudi Press Agency, SPA, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (front left) seated next to the country’s most senior cleric, listens to Saudi King Salman give his annual policy speech in the ornate hall of the consultative Shura Council,

The CIA reportedly has concluded the crown prince, de facto leader of the kingdom, ordered the October 2 hit on Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in the Turkish capital Ankara.

Germany's foreign minister said Monday that Berlin will ban 18 Saudi nationals from entering Europe's border-free Schengen zone because of their alleged links to the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Heiko Maas said he had consulted with France and Britain before announcing the ban.

"There are more questions than answers in this case, with the crime itself and who is behind it," Mass said on the sidelines of a European Union meeting in Brussels.

Watch related video by VOA's Michael Bowman

U.S. President Donald Trump says he has been fully briefed on an audio recording of the killing of the dissident Saudi journalist inside Riyadh's consulate in Istanbul last month, but has no intention of listening to it because of the violence it depicts.

"It's a suffering tape. It's a terrible tape," Trump told Fox News in a White House interview that was recorded Friday.

"It's very violent, very vicious and terrible," Trump said.

Trump said Saturday the U.S. government would release its findings on the October 2 killing of Khashoggi on Tuesday. The State Department says no final conclusions have been reached, although some U.S. news accounts have reported the Central Intelligence Agency has concluded the Saudi Crown Prince ordered the killing.

Asked in the Fox interview if the crown prince lied to him about his involvement, Trump replied, "I don't know. Who can really know?" adding, "He told me that he had nothing to do with it. He told me that, I would say, maybe five times at different points, as recently as a few days ago.

Fox interviewer Chris Wallace asked Trump whether he would go along with moves in Congress to cut off U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen or halt arms sales to Riyadh.

Trump said it depends, "I want to see Yemen end. It takes two to tango and Iran has to end also. I want Saudi to stop, but I want Iran to stop also."

Trump was briefed Saturday on the U.S. investigation of the killing of Khashoggi by telephone by CIA Director Gina Haspel and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The State Department said the U.S. government "is determined to hold all those responsible for the killing ... accountable" but that "numerous unanswered questions" remain.

Khashoggi, who wrote opinion columns for The Post and was a critic of the Saudi crown prince, was killed at the Saudi consulate while he was trying to get documents for his planned marriage to a Turkish woman.

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