Cabinet welcomes joint Saudi-Turkish Khashoggi probe

Steven Mnuchin

Steven Mnuchin

Mr. Trump promised unspecified punishment if Saudi Arabia is implicated in killing the journalist.

"Been hearing the ridiculous "rogue killers" theory was where the Saudis would go with this", Democratic US Senator Chris Murphy said on Twitter.

Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator and confidant of the USA president, said he wanted to "sanction the hell out of Saudi Arabia" and pointed the finger at its crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman - known by his initials "MBS".

Turkish officials say Khashoggi was murdered in the kingdom's Istanbul consulate after he arrived October 2 to retrieve a document for his upcoming wedding. "The king firmly denied any knowledge of it", Trump said Monday.

"There seems to be clear evidence that Khashoggi entered the Consulate and has never been seen since, the onus is on the Saudi authorities to reveal what happened to him from that point onwards", she said.

The case has provoked an worldwide outcry against Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, with more media and business executives pulling out of a planned investment conference there this month. Saudi Arabia, if you're listening.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin plans to attend a high-profile investment conference in Riyadh next week known as "Davos in the desert", even as IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde joined a growing list of high-profile executives who have pulled out.

"He's the 33-year-old prince who jumped over people". Turkey, they said, should not head the investigation, because any inquiry that could lead to murder charges could be subverted by diplomatic pressure on Ankara. "Answers will be forthcoming shortly", Trump said in a tweet.

Over the weekend, United States President Donald Trump warned Riyadh of "severe" consequences if the Saudi government was directly implicated in the incident, and sent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to the country on Monday. Democratic lawmakers criticized Trump for using the term "rogue killers". An IMF spokesman said she had postponed her planned trip to the Middle East with a stop in Saudi Arabia.

"This guy is a wrecking ball".

The recent, highly charged exchange of words between Washington and Riyadh now appears to have given way to a mutual search for the least bad explanation.

Gardiner said, "The United States is supporting Saudi Arabia in its military efforts against Iranian backed Houthi rebels inside Yemen, so it's a very complex picture". The Secretary will also discuss the Jamal Khashoggi case and reiterate the U.S. offer to assist Turkey in its investigation, the State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement. He restated his opposition to halting U.S. -Saudi arms deals.

"And sometimes it's important to take a public stand".

What is the state of investigation?

A second search, cancelled on Tuesday because Saudi officials were not able to join, is expected to happen later on Wednesday. While Turkish police believe he was killed by a special team of 15 Saudi officials, Riyadh has dismissed such claims as "baseless".

They were to search the Istanbul residence of the Saudi consul Mohammad al-Otaibi, who was reported to have left Turkey hours before the scheduled raid.

How much blame for Khashoggi's disappearance or death eventually settles on the crown prince will be a decisive factor in his standing in the eyes of the world and could affect his standing within the Saudi royal family.

"The New York Times has confirmed independently that at least nine of 15 suspects identified by Turkish authorities worked for the Saudi security services, military or other government ministries", the newspaper reported late Tuesday, referring to the case of Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared after entering the the Saudi Consulate on October 2.

"It has been 13 days since the event, so surely proving some of the evidence might be difficult" the Turkish official said. They once again cited anonymous sources, however. Samples, including soil from the garden and a metal gate, were reportedly taken.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Turkey. A bone saw was used to dismember Khashoggi's body and it was placed in handheld cases and transported back to Saudi Arabia.

Khashoggi, a USA resident, has not been seen in public since he entered the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

Reports suggest an assault and struggle took place in the building. But its probe faced considerable obstacles: Mr. Erdogan told reporters that the investigators who were finally allowed into the consulate encountered freshly painted walls.

Khashoggi had penned articles critical of the country's rulers.

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