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

Trump talks to Saudi king, dispatches Pompeo

Trump talks to Saudi king, dispatches Pompeo

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday "rogue killers" may have been behind the disappearance of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and Saudi Arabia's King Salman ordered an internal investigation into the case.

Turkish authorities have an audio recording which indicates that missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, a Turkish official and a security source said on Monday.

But Trump has repeatedly said he opposes ending US weapons sales to the kingdom, which he claims are worth $110 billion to USA companies.

President Donald Trump tweeted today that he has spoken to the Saudi king on the phone who "firmly" denied any plot to murder Khashoggi. Mr Trump told reporters outside the White House as he headed to Florida to review hurricane damage. "Maybe I don't want to get into his mind, but it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers - I mean, who knows?"

"If more information comes out over the next week, I will obviously take that into account", he said.

He also said Mr Pompeo would be leaving for Saudi Arabia in the next hour, adding that "we're going to leave nothing uncovered".

If the Saudis were concerned about the optics of a well-prepared cleaning crew arriving on the scene of an alleged murder just moments before the start of an investigation that is being closely watched by the global community, they did not show it-the crew walked in the front entrance of the consulate in full view of Reuters and Associated Press cameras and journalists.

While Saudi Arabia and Turkey have already said they would cooperate in a joint investigation, this would be a separate inquiry, the official said. They had alleged that a 15-man team flew from Riyadh to Istanbul on the day the senior journalist visited the consulate and carried out the alleged murder of the journalist.

The crown prince, ambitious, aggressive and just 33 in a kingdom long ruled by aging monarchs, has considerable weight in Saudi government actions. The officials were not authorized to comment publicly on the matter and requested anonymity.

Meanwhile on Monday, a team of Turkish and Saudi investigators entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, the Associated Press reported. The press also wrote that the United Kingdom can impose sanctions against Saudi officials for the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi.

Mr Trump said he impressed upon the king that Khashoggi's disappearance would be fully investigated.

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

Trump has said there are other ways to send a message, but has not yet provided details. Khashoggi wrote columns in the Washington Post that were critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Saudi Arabia has pledged to economically retaliate for any USA punitive action.

BlackRock, the world's largest fund manager, and Blackstone, the world's biggest manager of alternative investments had both previously planned to attend the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh.

Trump vowed to "find out what happened" to Khashoggi when asked about the situation prior to a Friday rally, and vowed there would be "severe punishment" during a "60 Minutes" interview that aired Sunday.

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