Trump picks retired general for ambassador to Saudi Arabia

WASHINGTON (AP) — A retired four-star general is President Donald Trump’s pick to be the new U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

Trump announced Tuesday that he’s nominating John Abizaid (AB’-ih-zayd), the longest-serving commander of the U.S. Central Command. The post has been empty since former ambassador Joseph Westphal left in January 2017.

The nomination comes at a time U.S.-Saudi relations are being tested by the slaying of a journalist critical of the royal family in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

If confirmed by the Senate, Abizaid would become ambassador as the Trump administration weighs the U.S. response to the killing of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi (jah-MAHL’ khahr-SHOHK’-jee).

Turkish officials claim Khashoggi was killed by a 15-member assassination squad sent from Riyadh on orders from the highest levels of the Saudi government.

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