Turkey's Erdogan says some material at Saudi consulate painted over

16 October, 2018, 16:27 | Author: Ethel Goodwin
  • F-15 warplane landing at Khamis Mushait military airbase

A pro-government Turkish daily published preliminary evidence last week from investigators it said identified a 15-member Saudi intelligence team which arrived in Istanbul on diplomatic passports hours before Khashoggi disappeared.

The US-based Soufan Center slammed Trump's approach, saying the US-Saudi relationship "since the ascendance of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman demonstrates the problem with basing relationships on personalities over principles".

CNN reported that the Saudis were going to admit the killing had occurred but deny the king or crown prince had ordered it, which does not match what analysts and experts know about the kingdom's inner workings.

The president has sent US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet Saudi King Salman in a case that has strained White House ties with the Saudis. Trump suggested that "rogue killers" could be responsible.

The New York Times, citing a person familiar with the Saudi plans, reported the crown prince had approved an interrogation or rendition of Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has denied any role in Khashoggi's disappearance. Saudi officials have been in and out of the building since Khashoggi's disappearance on 2 October without being stopped. Under the Vienna Convention, diplomatic posts are technically foreign soil that must be protected and respected by host countries. "Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin should cancel his participation in the Saudi investor conference and it's long overdue that the Trump Administration nominate a US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia", Durbin said. "Obviously, you don't want anybody to have a chance to clean it up, but very often people do miss blood".

A Turkish diplomatic source had earlier said that a joint Turkish-Saudi team would search the consulate. Turkish television channels have previously shown footage of a large vehicle leaving the consulate two hours after Khashoggi vanished and parking at the consul's residence.

Turkey has wanted to search the consulate for days. Permission apparently came after a late Sunday-night call between King Salman and the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. A police dog was part of the search team.

Khashoggi has written extensively for the Washington Post about Saudi Arabia, criticising its war in Yemen, the recent diplomatic spat with Canada and its arrest of women's rights activists after the lifting of a driving ban for women.

In a statement released on Monday, Mr Khashoggi's family said: "We are sadly and anxiously following the conflicting news regarding the fate of our father after losing contact with him two weeks ago".

Prince Mohammed has aggressively pitched the kingdom as a destination for foreign investment.

Prince Mohammed, 33, a son of King Salman, consolidated his control in June 2017 when he was named Crown Prince to replace his cousin, Mohammed bin Nayef, who was sacked. Under intense pressure from Washington and business leaders around the world, Riyadh now appears to be preparing to acknowledge that Mr Khashoggi was in fact killed inside the consulate.

In a "60 Minutes" interview that aired on Sunday, Trump said there would be consequences if it turned out Saudi Arabia had anything to do with Khashoggi's disappearance.

The US president has also been counting on Riyadh to plug any gap in world oil supplies as he prepares to reimpose a second tranche of crippling sanctions against Tehran in November following his abandonment of a landmark 2015 nuclear deal.


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