Top US diplomat in Saudi Arabia for talks over Khashoggi
ISTANBUL — US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived Tuesday in Saudi Arabia for talks with King Salman over the disappearance of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi.
Pompeo landed in Riyadh on Tuesday morning and was to immediately meet the king over the crisis surrounding Khashoggi. Pompeo was welcomed by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on landing; he made no remarks to the media.
Turkish officials say they believe Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi consulate, which Riyadh strongly denies.
Meanwhile, a Turkish forensics team finished earlier in the morning a search inside the consulate. It wasn’t immediately clear what evidence they gathered.
President Donald Trump, after speaking with King Salman, had dispatched Pompeo to speak to the monarch of the world’s top oil exporter over Khashoggi’s disappearance. Trump also said without offering evidence that the slaying could have been carried out by “rogue killers.”
Pompeo was scheduled to meet on Tuesday night with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“The effort behind the scenes is focused on avoiding a diplomatic crisis between the two countries and has succeeded in finding a pathway to deescalate tensions,” said Ayham Kamel, the head of the Eurasia Group’s Mideast and North African practice.
Turkey has wanted to search the consulate for days. Permission apparently came after a late Sunday night call between King Salman and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In statements after the call, both praised the creation of a joint Saudi-Turkish probe.
The Turkish inspection team included a prosecutor, a deputy prosecutor, anti-terror police and forensic experts, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported. Certain areas of the consulate were to remain off-limits, although officials would be able to inspect surveillance cameras, Turkish media reported.
What evidence Turkish officials gathered at the consulate remains unknown.