Published: Sat, October 20, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Pompeo Meets Saudi King As Outage Mounts Over Writer's Disappearance

Pompeo Meets Saudi King As Outage Mounts Over Writer's Disappearance

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday met with Saudi King Salman in capital Riyadh for talks on missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But one thing is certain: whatever narrative emerges, the global reputation of the Saudi Crown Prince and power-behind-the-throne Mohammed Bin Salman will forever be tainted by this affair.

Pompeo was dispatched on Monday, immediately after President Donald Trump had a phone call with the Saudi king, whom he said denied any knowledge of Khashoggi's fate.

"I've been their biggest defender on the floor of the United States Senate", Graham said of Saudi Arabia, before turning to bin Salman. Saudi Arabia previously called the allegation "baseless", but reports suggest the kingdom may soon acknowledge the writer was killed there. In statements after the call, both praised the creation of a joint Saudi-Turkish investigation.

Police planned a second search at the Saudi consul's home nearby.

The statement would pin blame on intelligence officials rather than Saudi leaders, alleging that an interrogation attempt had gone wrong and Khashoggi, who is a USA resident and an opinion writer at the Washington Post, was killed without authorization.

A Turkish security official said no conclusive evidence emerged from the overnight search that indicated Khashoggi was killed in the consulate.

Consul General Mohammed al-Otaibi left Turkey on Tuesday afternoon, state media reported, just as police began putting up barricades around his official residence.

The investigators, who searched the premises for eight hours into Tuesday morning, took samples with them, including soil from the consulate garden, one official at the scene said.

On Monday after speaking by telephone with King Salman, Trump was far less direct, suggesting that the October 2 disappearance of Khashoggi, who had been working with The Washington Post, could have been at the hands of "rogue killers".

Turkish authorities have told MEE that they have video and audio recordings of the journalist's alleged murder, and found evidence of blood in the consulate's sewage system before being allowed into the consulate.

Speaking to the Fox Business Network on Wednesday, Trump again cited counterterrorism cooperation with Saudi Arabia and the kingdom's contracts with USA defense contractors.

Many members of the U.S. Congress, which has long had a testy relationship with Saudi Arabia, have issued strong criticism of the kingdom. "Just because a country we're working with did it doesn't mean the United States can just shrug its shoulders and say nothing happened here".

US officials began predicting over the weekend, however, that the Saudis would inevitably admit complicity in the death of Khashoggi and claim a "botched operation", said one person familiar with the discussions.

Trump administration officials told The Associated Press that intelligence collected by the U.S.is inconclusive as to what actually happened to Khashoggi. Several diplomatic cars were seen leaving the consulate for the house about an hour after Khashoggi stepped through the consulate's doors.

France, Germany and Britain on Sunday expressed concerns over the case, calling for "a credible investigation" into the incident.

"We can confirm Diane Greene will not be attending the FII Summit", a Google spokesperson told CRN, referring to the Future Investment Initiative, a gathering of high-powered executives from the tech and investment worlds later this month in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

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