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Top US college slams Khashoggi murder; keeps Saudi ties

MIT president says cutting relations not best course of action

Umar Farooq   | 06.02.2019
Top US college slams Khashoggi murder; keeps Saudi ties

Washington DC

By Umar Farooq

WASHINGTON

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on Wednesday said it would not severe its ties with Saudi Arabia but the school condemned the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

"MIT utterly condemns such brutal human rights violations, discrimination and suppression of dissent, including the murder of Jamal Khashoggi," President Rafael Reif said in a letter.

Some students, faculty and members of the MIT community demanded the university end its relationship with the kingdom after Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last October.

After initially denying a role in the journalist's death, Saudi Arabia changed its story and blamed the killing on a botched rendition operation.

Reif said he shared the "sense of horror" at the killing but had no intentions of cutting engagements with Saudi Arabia, saying the kingdom sponsored research and education programs for the university.

Last year, the Saudi state oil company, Aramco, pledged $25 million to the university for an energy research project.

"My experience leads me to see our Saudi engagements differently, and therefore to believe that cutting off these longstanding faculty-led relationships abruptly in midstream is not the best course of action," said Reif.

He said the university will establish an advisory committee to review international engagement with other governments. This committee will review future partnerships and also look at ones that are up for renewal.

"I have come to know many Saudi citizens, including MIT alumni, Saudi officials and industry leaders working to modernize Saudi society,” said Reif. “I have also met Saudi students and postdocs, both women and men, who dream of helping their society participate in and contribute to the global scientific community."

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