Saudi Arabia rejected threats to punish it over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, saying the kingdom would retaliate against any sanctions with tougher measures, the official state news agency said on Sunday.
The comments came after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened “severe punishment” for Riyadh if it turned out Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Saudi authorities and a legal resident of the United States, was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
“The Kingdom affirms its total rejection of any threats and attempts to undermine it, whether by threatening to impose economic sanctions, using political pressures, or repeating false accusations...” the official Saudi Press Agency quoted an unnamed government source as saying.
“The Kingdom also affirms that if it receives any action, it will respond with greater action, and that the Kingdom’s economy has an influential and vital role in the global economy...” the source added without elaborating.
The threat caused the stock market of the world’s biggest oil exporter to lose as much as $33 billion of its value on Sunday in one of the first signs of the economic pain that Riyadh could suffer over the affair.
The Saudi equities index .TASI plunged as much as 7 percent in its biggest drop since December 2014, when oil prices were crashing. It later recovered partially to stand 5.0 percent lower shortly before the close.
Turkey believes Khashoggi was deliberately killed in the consulate and his body removed. Riyadh has rejected those claims.
A senior member of Saudi Arabia’s ruling family, Prince Khaled al-Faisal, has met Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan to discuss Khashoggi’s disappearance, two sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters without providing details of the talks.
On Friday, a source with links to the prince’s family said Prince Khaled, who is the governor of Mecca, had been sent to Turkey in his capacity as special adviser to King Salman.