US secretary of state to meet Saudi king over Khashoggi disappearance

TEHRAN, Oct. 15 (MNA) – Donald Trump has said he is sending the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, to meet King Salman of Saudi Arabia to discuss the disappearance of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was last seen alive almost two weeks ago.

According to Guardian, Trump said Salman “denies any knowledge of whatever may have happened” to the journalist and was “working closely with Turkey” to find out what happened to him.

Saudi Arabia on Monday ended a week-long impasse by agreeing to let Turkish investigators enter its consulate in Istanbul, where Khashoggi was last seen entering on 2 October, to undertake a full search.

It has also launched an internal investigation into the episode after an instruction from King Salman, father of the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, whom Khashoggi had frequently criticized.

The case has provoked an international outcry, with Trump threatening “severe punishment” if it turns out Khashoggi was killed in the consulate and European allies urging “a credible investigation” and accountability for those responsible. The White House has brushed aside threats by Saudi Arabia that it may economically retaliate for any US punitive action imposed over the suspected murder.

The kingdom agreed in principle on Friday to launch a joint investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance in conjunction with Turkish police, but a search of the consulate was delayed by disagreements over the terms.

Turkish officers wanted to take in solvents to detect traces of blood, while the Saudis wanted a more limited search.

Khashoggi has been missing since he entered the consulate a fortnight ago and is presumed to have been murdered. Leaks from the Turkish investigation suggest Khashoggi was interrogated by a Saudi team shortly before he died, with his body then dismembered either in the consulate or at the consul-general’s nearby residence.

A Saudi team that came to Turkey from Riyadh at the time of Khashoggi’s disappearance left hours after his presumed murder.

Saudi Arabia has angrily rejected any suggestion it was involved in interrogating Khashoggi, who had visited the consulate on a planned trip in relation to his forthcoming marriage. It has offered no explanation for his disappearance or of any pictures of him leaving the consulate.

Khashoggi was a critic of the regime in effect led by the Bin Salman since his father appointed him crown prince in June 2017. There have been suggestions that Khashoggi was previously concerned he was about to be captured by the Saudi court.

MA/PR

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