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US President Obama vetoes bill allowing 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia

The legislation is strongly opposed by Saudi Arabia which is home to 15 of the 19 hijackers in the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. Photograph: (Getty)

WION Washington, DC, United States Sep 23, 2016, 08.55 PM (IST)
US President Barack Obama on Friday vetoed a bill which would allow 9/11 victims' families to sue Saudi Arabia for compensation.

Obama "sympathised" with the victims families but said the bill would be "detrimental to US national interests", AFP reported. 

"Removing sovereign immunity in US courts from foreign governments that are not designated as state sponsors of terrorism, based solely on allegations that such foreign governments' actions abroad had a connection to terrorism-related injuries on US soil, threatens to undermine these longstanding principles that protect the United States, our forces, and our personnel," he said.

The Saudi Arabian government has long been suspected for its alleged involvement in the September 11 attacks in which at least 3,000 people were killed and countless injured. 

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals. 

According to Reuters, declassified documents revealed that the US intelligence suspected terrorists to be in contact with the Saudi government. 

The bill had been passed by the senate and House of Representatives and for the first time, an override is expected by the Republicans and the Democrats. 

Senator Chuck Schumer, who co-wrote the bill, said the bill will be “swiftly and soundly overturned". Reuters reported him as saying. 

However, some still have doubts about the legislation. 

 Mac Thornberry, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said he will oppose the override. 

"My primary concern is that this bill increases the risk posed to American military and intelligence personnel, diplomats and others serving our country around the world," Thornberry said in an appeal to fellow Republicans not to vote for the bill. 

The "9/11 Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism" which pushed for the bill found the reason "unconvincing and unsupportable".

The Saudi government lobbied to stop the bill from passing and got support from the European Union and Gulf countries. 

Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton said they would sign the bill if it came to them. 

(WION with inputs from agenices)
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