'I don't think that a country would dare commit such a crime without the protection of America," Rouhani tells state-run news agency
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that Saudi Arabia would not have murdered prominent journalist Jamal Khashoggi without American protection, according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).
US President Donald Trump has gone back and forth for weeks in comments about whether he believes Saudi authorities were involved in Khashoggi's killing.
On Tuesday, Trump said Saudi Arabia had staged the "worst cover-up ever" with the killing, as Washington vowed to revoke the visas of some of those believed to be responsible.
And in an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, Trump said that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman could have been involved in the murder plot because he is "running things over there".
Early on, as many Arab leaders across the region came out publicly backing Saudi Arabia, Iran said it would adopt a wait and see approach to Khashoggi's disappearance.
READ MORE ►
But on Wednesday, Rouhani told IRNA: "No one would imagine that in today's world and a new century that we would witness such an organised murder and a system would plan out such a heinous murder."
"I don't think that a country would dare commit such a crime without the protection of America."
Khashoggi's death in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October has triggered global outrage.
Saudi Arabia repeatedly denied knowledge of Khashoggi's fate before saying on Saturday he was killed in a fight in the consulate, an account met with scepticism from several Western governments.
Iran and Saudi Arabia are regional rivals and have supported opposing sides in the conflicts in Syria and Yemen and different political factions in Iraq and Lebanon.
US protection has allowed Saudi Arabia to carry out bombings against civilians in Yemen's war, Rouhani said, according to IRNA.
"If there was no American protection, would the people of Yemen still have faced the same brutal bombing?" Rouhani said.
Rouhani also called on Turkey's government to conduct an impartial investigation into Khashoggi's "unprecedented" murder.
Separately, Rouhani said that Iran would "defeat" new American sanctions targeting its oil sector, according to the IRIB news agency.
Washington plans to impose the sanctions from 4 November with the aim of stopping Iran's involvement in conflicts in Syria and Iraq, and bringing Tehran to the negotiating table over its ballistic missile programme.