Pompeo meets Saudi king on Khashoggi case
RIYADH/ISTANBUL – Saudi Arabia’s crown prince agreed on Tuesday there must be a thorough investigation into the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the United States said.
Khashoggi, a US resident and leading critic of the crown prince, allegedlly vanished after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. Turkish officials say they believe he was murdered there, which the Saudis strongly deny.
Overnight, Turkish crime scene investigators entered the consulate for the first time since Khashoggi’s disappearance and searched the premises for more than nine hours.
US President Donald Trump, who dispatched Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Riyadh, speculated that “rogue killers” may be responsible.
Pompeo met King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh to discuss the incident.
He and Prince Mohammed “agreed on the importance of a thorough, transparent, and timely investigation”, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in Washington.
“The Secretary reiterated the President’s concern with respect to Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance, as well as the President’s desire to determine what happened,” she said.
Pompeo is expected to go on to Turkey after dinner with the crown prince.
In Istanbul, Turkish investigators were expanding their search to include the residence of the Saudi consul and consulate vehicles, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.
A Turkish security official said no conclusive evidence emerged from the overnight search that indicated Khashoggi was killed in the consulate.
“However, there are some findings and they are being worked on,” he said.
The Turkish team that searched the consulate took away soil samples and a metal door from the garden, a Reuters witness said, but a senior official acknowledged the difficulty of collecting evidence 13 days after the incident.
Saudi Arabia on October 14 warned against threats or any form of pressure over last week’s disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“The Kingdom affirms its total rejection of any threats and attempts to undermine it, whether by threatening to impose economic sanctions, using political pressures, or repeating false accusations,” the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) quoted an unnamed official as saying.
The Saudi riyal, rebounded early after falling to its lowest in two years over fears that foreign investment could shrink. Saudi stock index initially dropped 3 percent before recovering to gain 1.3 percent.