Trump says 'rogue killers' may be behind Khashoggi disappearance

Ivan Schwartz
October 16, 2018

In a Sunday night phone call, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz discussed the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Turkey has flatly accused Saudi Arabia of murdering and dismembering Khashoggi when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain marriage documents. CEO Bob Bakish, Los Angeles Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong and World Bank President Jim Yong-kim, who have announced their decision not to attend.

The renowned journalist has not been seen since entering the building nearly two weeks ago.

Turkish diplomatic sources had said the consulate would be searched by a joint Turkish-Saudi team. A Turkish diplomatic source had earlier said a joint Turkish-Saudi team would search the building - the last place Khashoggi was seen before he vanished on October 2.

Trump said he didn't "want to get into (Salman's) mind", but told reporters: "it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers".

Khashoggi had visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul for an appointment related to his upcoming wedding.

Saudi officials arrive at the the consulate in Istanbul where Mr Khashoggi was last seen.

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Such an off-ramp could provide a way for Saudi leadership to save face and explain away their previous insistence that Khashoggi wasn't killed in the consulate and indeed left the building shortly after he entered almost two weeks ago.

Trump dispatched his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to the kingdom on Monday to find out "first-hand what happened, what they know, what's going on".

Khashoggi was U.S. resident and wrote articles for The Washington Post, splitting his time between Virginia, London, and Istanbul since he left Saudi Arabia in June 2017.

The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, also said the kingdom is weighing whether to say that rogue operatives killed Khashoggi by mistake during an interrogation. But Saudi Arabia strongly rejects he was killed inside the mission.

Referring to a $110 billion weapons deal previously signed by Riyadh and Washington and noting that Khashoggi was not a USA citizen, Trump told journalists last week that he didn't really want to stop "massive amounts of money" from being poured into the United States from Saudi Arabia. American lawmakers have threatened tough punitive action against the Saudis, and Germany, France and Britain jointly called for a "credible investigation" into Khashoggi's disappearance.

The defections could jeopardize the large feesglobalbanks and investment firms have been earning from the kingdom - and the promise of even bigger business if Saudi Arabia makes good on plans to privatize its oil industry and boost foreign investment in a variety of sectors.

The press agency also released a statement of support from the government of Yemen, which Saudi Arabia is supporting in a protracted war against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in the Middle East's most impoverished country.

Other reports by GizPress

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