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Trump nominates retired army general as US ambassador to Saudi Arabia

US has not had an ambassador to Saudi Arabia since Trump took office early last year
An interior shot of the US embassy in Riyadh (

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday nominated a retired Army general to be the country's ambassador to Saudi Arabia, as Washington faces pressure to respond to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The White House said Trump had chosen John Abizaid, who as a four-star Army general led the US Central Command during the Iraq war, to be Washington's ambassador in Riyadh. Abizaid awaits confirmation by the US Senate.

John Abizaid has been appointed as the next US ambasador in Saudi Arabia (AFP)

The United States has not had an ambassador to Saudi Arabia since Trump took office in January 2017.

Abizaid is currently a visiting fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and works as a private consultant at JPA Associates, the White House said.

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In addition to the scandal over Khashoggi's death, Washington is also grappling with criticism from US politicians over its support for Saudi Arabia's military intervention in Yemen's civil war.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist critical of Saudi leaders, was killed on 2 October.

Turkey has drip-fed increasingly gruesome details of Khashoggi’s murder to the press, which initially claimed the journalist left the consulate alive.

In the face of mounting evidence, Riyadh later said Khashoggi died in a fistfight, then admitted he was the victim of a brutal premeditated murder.

Saudi Arabia initially denied any knowledge or involvement in Khashoggi's killing, but a Saudi public prosecutor later said it was planned in advance.

Trump has expressed reluctance to punish Saudi Arabia economically, citing its multibillion-dollar purchases of military equipment and investments in US firms.

White House national security adviser John Bolton said on Tuesday he does not think recordings related to Khashoggi's killing, which were shared by Turkey, implicate Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.