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Washington – Senators are challenging President Donald Trump’s nominee to the post of U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia to take a tough line with the kingdom on human rights.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch warned that while Saudi Arabia is a strategically important ally, the alliance must be reconciled with American values.

The hearing Wednesday on the nomination of retired four-star general John Abizaid came two days after senators received a briefing from administration officials on the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Lawmakers say they believe the Saudi crown prince ordered the killing.

If confirmed, Abizaid pledged to push for more information on the Khashoggi killing and have “forceful discussions” with Riyadh on other human rights abuses.

The U.S. hasn’t had an ambassador to Saudi Arabia since January 2017.

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