UPDATE – US rep. introduces bill to ban Saudi arms sales

ADDS SENATOR KENNEDY'S REMARKS IN GRAFS 10-12

By Umar Farooq

WASHINGTON (AA) – A bill in the House of Representatives would halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia unless Secretary of State Mike Pompeo certifies the kingdom did not order the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

Massachusetts Democratic congressman Jim McGovern, co-chair of the Human Rights Commission and the ranking member of the House Rules Committee, took the lead on the legislation, saying reports about Khashoggi "represent a brazen violation of international norms."

The legislation states U.S. military aid and sales to Saudi Arabia would be prohibited, pending confirmation from Pompeo on the status of Khashoggi.

“If the United States stands for anything, we need to stand out loud and foursquare for human rights. Our values are our strength, and we cannot be indifferent or complicit when those values are undermined or attacked," McGovern said in a statement last week.

Khashoggi has not been seen since he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 as fears mount he was killed.

Multiple reports have cited audio and video recordings containing grisly details of his alleged killing at the hands of Saudi operatives after he entered the consulate.

Other U.S. lawmakers have also taken similar stances on Saudi Arabia, saying sanctions are necessary if reports of the journalist's death are true.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham warned there would be "hell to pay" if Khashoggi was killed.

According to the Intercept news website, the bill, introduced to the House on Tuesday, is being co-sponsored by six Democrats and two Republican lawmakers.

Republican Senator John Kennedy said that while Saudi Arabia should be condemned if it is found to be behind Khashoggi's disappearance, the U.S. should stop short of "blowing up the Middle East" in retaliation.

"You could expel diplomats. You could do a U.N. resolution. You could curtail arms sales. You could do sanctions on individuals," Kennedy said, according to the Hill news outlet. "Our foreign policy has to be anchored on values, that's America."

Among the "number of options" the U.S. could pursue are sanctions, arms sales reductions and UN resolutions, Kennedy suggested.

*Michael Hernandez contributed to this story

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