Published: Fri, October 19, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Saudis agree need for 'thorough' probe into missing writer, USA says

Saudis agree need for 'thorough' probe into missing writer, USA says

Meanwhile, the Saudi consul-general Mohammad al-Otaibi left Istanbul for Riyadh on a scheduled flight, as Turkish investigators were poised to search his residence.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpKey takeaways from the Arizona Senate debate Major Hollywood talent firm considering rejecting Saudi investment money: report Mattis says he thought "nothing at all" about Trump saying he may leave administration MORE has previously threatened to impose penalties on Riyadh if it is found to have been responsible for Khashoggi's disappearance, but he suggested on Monday that Saudi Arabia might not be responsible and that "rogue killers" may have gotten to the journalist.

Speaking on Tuesday after Turkish police entered the consulate for the first time and searched the premises for nine hours, Erdogan also told reporters that they were looking into toxic materials at the mission.

The comment by the Turkish official to The Associated Press intensified pressure on Saudi Arabia to explain what happened to Khashoggi, who vanished October 2 while visiting the consulate to pick up paperwork he needed to get married.

The New York Times and The Washington Post have reported, citing anonymous sources, that Saudi officials may soon acknowledge Khashoggi's slaying at the consulate but blame it on a botched intelligence operation.

However, US media are reporting that the Saudis may be preparing to admit that Mr Khashoggi died as a result of an interrogation that went wrong.

Khashoggi is feared dead after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul more than two weeks ago.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Pompeo did not listen to a key piece of Turkey's evidence: an audio tape that Turkey claims captures Khashoggi's struggle and death inside the consulate. Trump himself said without offering evidence that Khashoggi could have been murdered by "rogue killers", offering the US-allied kingdom a possible path out of a global diplomatic firestorm.

After his visit to Riyadh, Pompeo will hold talks in Turkey on Wednesday, on the second leg of his trip, the Turkish foreign ministry said. He said US officials want to review any audio and video from Turkey relating to Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and USA resident.

"Nothing happens in Saudi Arabia without MbS knowing it", he said in an interview with Fox News.

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Mr Pompeo is also expected to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his day in Riyadh.

"The denial was very, very strong", Trump later told reporters at the White House.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met the Saudi king and crown prince on Tuesday to discuss the disappearance of Khashoggi.

In his comments to reporters, Pompeo said he also stressed the "longstanding strategic relationship" between the USA and Saudi Arabia. Those policies are all seen as initiatives of Prince Mohammed, the son of King Salman, who is next in line to the throne.

Saudi officials have been in and out of the building since Khashoggi's disappearance without being stopped.

Prince Mohammed said during the meeting on Tuesday: "We are strong and old allies".

During his meeting with Pompeo, MBS reiterated the United States and Saudi Arabia's close ties, while America's top diplomat expressed concern over Khashoggi's fate.

The UN human rights chief called Tuesday for the lifting of the immunity of officials who might be involved in Khashoggi's disappearance.

Saudi officials have not answered repeated requests for comment over recent days from the AP.

King Salman ordered an investigation into the missing journalist on Monday. Certain areas of the consulate were to remain off-limits, although officials would be able to inspect surveillance cameras, Turkish media reported. The U.S. president has been after King Salman and OPEC to boost production to drive down high oil prices, caused in part by the coming re-imposition of oil sanctions on Iran.

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