Obama to veto anti-Saudi 9/11 bill passed by Senate

Obama to veto anti-Saudi 9/11 bill passed by Senate

Washington - The bill would allow 9/11 families to pursue cases in federal court against foreign governments, notably Saudi Arabia.



By AFP

Published: Thu 19 May 2016, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 20 May 2016, 8:41 AM

The US Senate approved legislation on Tuesday that would allow September 11 victims and their relatives to sue Saudi Arabia over its possible role in the 2001 attacks, a bill which could trigger a diplomatic firestorm.
Senators unanimously approved the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act which now heads to the House of Representatives, where Speaker Paul Ryan has voiced reservations.
The White House has repeatedly stated that President Barack Obama, who visited the kingdom in April in a bid to soothe strained ties, opposes the law because it would essentially waive the doctrine of sovereign immunity.
"This legislation would change long-standing, international law regarding sovereign immunity. And the president of the United States continues to harbour serious concerns that this legislation would make the United States vulnerable in other court systems around the world," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.
He explained that the United States was more engaged internationally "than any other country in the world," particularly in peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.
Undermining immunity, he said, would put Americans working abroad at risk.
The bill would allow 9/11 families to pursue cases in federal court against foreign governments, notably Saudi Arabia, and demand compensation if such governments are proven to bear some responsibility for the attacks.
Fifteen of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudi citizens. But no official Saudi complicity in the Al Qaeda attacks has been proven, and the kingdom has never been formally implicated.
The New York Times reported last month that Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir told lawmakers in Washington that the kingdom would be forced to sell up to $750 billion in treasury securities and other assets in the United States to avoid having them frozen by federal courts.
House Speaker Ryan, a Republican, has expressed hesitation about bringing the bill to the floor for a vote. - AFP


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