Published: Sat, October 20, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Disappearance of Saudi Arabia journalist Jamal Khashoggi: Prof. John Stremlau

Disappearance of Saudi Arabia journalist Jamal Khashoggi: Prof. John Stremlau

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he told Saudi Arabia's rulers that the USA takes "very seriously" the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and will await the outcome of investigations by the kingdom and Turkey before deciding how the US will respond.

CBS News correspondent Holly Williams, in Istanbul, says another question is how much damage the entire episode will do to Saudi Arabia, which remains a key USA ally in the tumultuous Middle East.

Graham told host Brian Kilmeade that he won't be "going back to Saudi Arabia as long as this guy is in charge".

Actor Gerard Butler said on Monday he canceled an upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia to promote a new film because it felt like an "incredibly insensitive" time to visit amid activist Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance.

The incident has sparked a major diplomatic crisis between the USA and Saudi Arabia. But last week, 22 senators triggered a US investigation of whether human rights sanctions should be imposed over the disappearance.

US Senator Lindsey Graham, pictured with fellow Republican Senator Marco Rubio in Washington in 2014, described Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as a "wrecking ball".

On Monday, a team of Turkish investigators and forensics experts entered the consulate 13 days after the prominent Saudi journalist was last seen walking into the building.

Pompeo landed in Riyadh on Tuesday morning and was due to meet the king immediately to discuss the crisis surrounding Khashoggi, who vanished two weeks ago during a visit to the Istanbul consulate.

Unconfirmed reports said that Khashoggi was likely killed inside the compound, a claim denied by Saudi officials as "baseless".

Overnight, Turkish forensic teams searched the consulate building where the renowned journalist was last seen entering.

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Turkish officials say they fear Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside the consulate.

The Saudis repainted the consulate's interior following Khashoggi's disappearance, a top Turkish official told MEE.

Trump previously warned of "severe punishment" for the kingdom if it was found to be involved in Khashoggi's disappearance, which has spooked investors in Saudi Arabia and SoftBank, a Japanese firm that manages tens of billions of dollars for the kingdom.

However, he refused to list what measures he would take, only saying that he would not choose to impose sanctions on the country for fear of losing its military sales orders with USA companies.

Trump told reporters on Monday that he spoke with the Saudi king, who has "firmly denied" any knowledge of Khashoggi's whereabouts. "I hope that the [Saudi] king and the crown prince didn't know about it. We're going to try getting to the bottom of it very soon, but his was a flat denial", he said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has raised the possibility that parts of Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul had been repainted since Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi disappeared there.

But Turkey appeared intent to further build its claims against Saudi Arabia.

The officials were not authorized to comment publicly on the matter and requested anonymity.

It added that the report was still being prepared and things could change.

Probe was ordered following an outcry with Britain, France and Germany among other countries releasing a rare joint statement saying that they were taking Khashoggi's disappearance "with the utmost seriousness" and calling for a "credible investigation".

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