Trump reluctant to abandon Riyadh over
missing journalist, wants evidence
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[October 18, 2018]
By Leah Millis, Tulay Karadeniz and Steve Holland
ANKARA/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S.
President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he did not want to abandon ally
Saudi Arabia over the disappearance of a Saudi journalist and has asked
for audio recordings Turkish sources say indicate he was killed by Saudi
Trump said he was waiting for a full report on what had happened to
Jamal Khashoggi from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, whom he sent to
Saudi Arabia and Turkey to meet with officials over the disappearance of
the Saudi government critic. Trump and Pompeo are scheduled to meet at
10 a.m. (1400 GMT) on Thursday.
Turkish officials have said they believe Khashoggi, a Washington Post
columnist who was critical of the authoritarian kingdom's Crown Prince
Mohammed bin Salman, was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on
Oct. 2 and his body removed. The Saudis have denied the allegations.
Turkish sources have told Reuters the authorities have an audio
recording indicating Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate. He has
not been seen since entering the building.
Turkey's pro-government Yeni Safak newspaper on Wednesday published what
it said were details from audio recordings that purported to document
Khashoggi's torture and interrogation.
Khashoggi was killed within minutes and his torturers severed his
fingers during the interrogation, the newspaper said. His killers later
beheaded and dismembered him, it said.
Turkey has not shared with the U.S. government or European allies
graphic audio or video evidence, seven U.S. and European security
officials told Reuters. The United States and allies have collected some
intelligence through their own sources and methods, which partly
confirms news reports based on leaks of audio recordings, four of the
A New York Times report cited a senior Turkish official confirming the
details published by Yeni Safak. Two Turkish government officials
contacted by Reuters declined to confirm the report.
Trump, who has forged closer ties with Saudi Arabia and the 33-year-old
crown prince, said the United States has asked Turkey for any audio or
Asked in a Fox Business Network interview if Washington could abandon
Riyadh, Trump said: "I do not want to do that."
Trump reiterated his hopes that Saudi leaders were not involved in the
disappearance of Khashoggi, a U.S. resident.
"I want to find out what happened, where is the fault, and we will
probably know that by the end of the week," Trump later told reporters.
"We have asked for it, if it exists ... I'm not sure yet that it exists,
probably does, possibly does," he said of the audio or video evidence.
U.S. media outlets have reported that Riyadh, despite its earlier
denials of involvement, will acknowledge that Khashoggi was killed in a
botched interrogation. Trump has speculated without providing evidence
that "rogue killers" could be responsible.
How the crown prince emerges from the crisis is a test of how the West
will deal with Saudi Arabia in the future.
Trump has appeared unwilling to distance himself too much from the
Saudis, citing Riyadh's role in countering Iranian influence in the
region - and tens of billions of dollars in potential arms deals.
Other Western nations, although expressing concern about the incident,
face a similar delicate situation in their dealings with the world's top
Pompeo said Riyadh should be given a few more days to complete its own
probe into Khashoggi's disappearance. He met Turkey's president and
foreign minister, a day after Trump gave Saudi Arabia the benefit of the
"They're going to do an investigation, and when the investigation comes
out we'll evaluate it," Pompeo told reporters traveling with him.
[to top of second column]
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan meets with U.S. Secretary of State
Mike Pompeo at Esenboga International Airport in Ankara, Turkey
November 17, 2018. Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Presidential Press
Office/Handout via REUTERS
A State Department spokeswoman said Pompeo had not heard any audio
recording purporting to indicate Khashoggi was killed.
Pompeo also said the United States must be mindful of important
business and government ties with Saudi Arabia as it considers any
steps once the facts have been determined.
Turkish investigators spent nearly nine hours in the Saudi consul's
residence, leaving early on Thursday, as did Saudi investigators.
The search by Turkish investigators included the roof and garage and
the deployment of a drone over the area.
Turkish crime scene investigators were still working at the
consulate early on Thursday, using bright lights to illuminate the
garden, though it was not clear what they were doing.
A pro-government Turkish daily published preliminary evidence last
week from investigators who it said had identified a 15-member Saudi
intelligence team that arrived in Istanbul on diplomatic passports
hours before Khashoggi disappeared.
The Washington Post published a column by Khashoggi it received from
his assistant a day after he was reported missing.
In the column, Khashoggi condemns the crackdown on journalists by
Arab governments and the failure of the international community to
respond. "As a result, Arab governments have been given free rein to
continue silencing the media at an increasing rate," he wrote.(https://wapo.st/2AfrNpq)
A New York Times report, citing witnesses and other records, linked
four suspects to Prince Mohammed's security detail.
One name matches a LinkedIn profile for a forensic expert who has
worked at the interior ministry for 20 years. Another is identified
in a diplomatic directory from 2007 as a first secretary at the
Saudi Embassy in London. Others resemble officers in the Saudi Army
and Air Force.
After meeting the king and crown prince on Tuesday, Pompeo said
Saudi Arabia has committed to a full investigation.
Asked whether they said Khashoggi was alive or dead, Pompeo said:
"They didn't talk about any of the facts."
Prince Mohammed has painted himself as the face of a new, vibrant
Saudi Arabia, diversifying its economy away from reliance on oil and
making some social changes.
But there has been criticism of some of his moves, including
Riyadh's involvement in the Yemen war, the arrest of women
activists, and a diplomatic row with Canada.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said his plans to attend an
investment conference in Riyadh next week would be revisited on
Thursday after U.S. officials have a chance to consult Pompeo.
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde and
top executives from Societe Generale <SOGN.PA> and Glencore joined a
growing list of executives who have pulled out.
Saudi Arabia has said it would retaliate against any pressure or
(Reporting by Leah Millis, Tulay Karadeniz and Steve Holland;
additional reporting by Makini Brice, Lesley Wroughton, Arshad
Mohammed and Mark Hosenball in Washington, Ali Kucukgocmen, Daren
Butler and Yesim Dikmen in Istanbul and Gulsen Solaker, Orhan Coskun
and Tuvan Gumrukcu in Ankara; Writing by Stephen Kalin and David
Dolan; Editing by William Maclean, Angus MacSwan, Grant McCool and
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