Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Trump concedes Khashoggi likely dead, threatens consequences

AFP  Getty Images AFP Getty Images
Andrew Cummings | 19 October, 2018, 11:17

Saudi Arabia has denied killing Khashoggi, a critic of the country's de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Trump, who has forged closer ties with Saudi Arabia and the 33-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, acknowledged for the first time on Thursday that Khashoggi, a USA resident and Washington Post columnist, had likely been killed.

Pompeo told reporters that he advised Trump that Saudi Arabia should be given a few more days to complete its investigation into the disappearance of Khashoggi, which has caused an global outcry and strained Saudi relations with western countries and corporations.

USA lawmakers have blamed the Saudi leadership and many high profile guests have pulled out of a major Saudi Arabia investment conference in protest.

The confab hosted by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has seen a slew of its committed participants withdraw amid the ongoing controversy over the disappearance and apparent murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

"No, just that we're waiting for some investigations and waiting for the results, and we'll have them very soon, and I think we'll be making a statement, a very strong statement", he said.

Pompeo declined to comment on what the USA believes might have happened to Khashoggi but made clear Washington takes the situation "very seriously".

Turkish officials have searched the consulate and sources said a recording reveals Khashoggi was beaten after a brief conversation with Saudi consul general Mohammed al-Otaibi.

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King Salman ordered the public prosecutor to open an internal investigation into the Khashoggi case, a Saudi official said . The problem with that is that there's been already a lot of questions about Mohammed bin Salman .

Canada's relationship with Saudi Arabia hit trouble in August, when Riyadh suspended diplomatic ties with Canada and expelled the Canadian ambassador after Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland criticized the regime on Twitter for its arrest of social activists.

Dutch finance minister Wopke Hoekstra has cancelled his visit to Saudia Arabia because of the probable murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul.

Turkish authorities say he was killed.

Reports earlier this week had suggested the Saudis were preparing to admit that Mr Khashoggi had died in a botched interrogation.

In his comments to reporters, Pompeo said he also stressed the "longstanding strategic relationship" between the US and Saudi Arabia. Khashoggi's whereabouts were unknown after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Turkey on Oct 2.

Earlier, they spent almost nine hours in the Saudi consul's residence along with Saudi investigators.

At around 4:40 pm (1340 GMT) a team of a dozen police and prosecutors, including forensics experts in white overalls entered the residence of the consul, who was at the consulate when the alleged assassination of Khashoggi took place, according to Turkish media.

The official also said the Pompeo had warned Prince Mohammed that given the allegations it would be "very hard for you to be a credible king" without a credible investigation into the case.

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