Khashoggi disappearance: Pompeo to visit Saudi Arabia

A Saudi official, not authorized to speak publicly, told Reuters that the king had ordered an internal investigation based on information from the joint team in Istanbul.

Turkish officials have said they fear a Saudi hit team that flew into and out of Turkey on October 2 killed and dismembered Khashoggi, who had written Washington Post columns critically of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Turkish investigators were on Monday expected to search the Saudi consulate in Istanbul for the first time since journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared, after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and King Salman discussed the case by phone. "The King told me that Turkey and Saudi Arabia are working hand-in-hand, very closely, on getting to the bottom of what happened. We're going to be seeing it very soon".

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

Saudi Arabia has given Turkey permission to search its Istanbul consulate Monday afternoon, a Turkish diplomatic source told CNN. Saudi officials have been in and out of the building since Khashoggi's disappearance October 2 without being stopped. A team arrived by unmarked police cars at the consulate but said nothing to journalists waiting outside as they entered the building.

Saudi officials have called all the allegations "baseless", but have offered no evidence the journalist left the consulate.

Turkish officials believe Mr Khashoggi was murdered by Saudi agents but Riyadh has always strongly denied this. "I am immediately sending our Secretary of State to meet with King!" Several media outlets have cited anonymous sources claiming that Khashoggi was murdered at the consulate.

Turkish officials say they fear Saudi agents killed and dismembered Jamal Khashoggi after he entered the consulate in Istanbul almost two weeks ago.

The US administration increasingly regards Saudi Arabia's denial of any involvement in the journalist's disappearance as untenable, and Trump and his aides are more and more convinced that he died after entering the consulate, according to three US officials who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter. The sources said the interrogation was meant to lead to his enforced return to Saudi Arabia.

On Sunday, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, another member of the Foreign Relations panel, said that Trump risked sacrificing the moral high ground with other misbehaving foreign leaders. "Riyadh is the most important customer of U.S. companies, as Saudi Arabia buys 10 percent of the total weapons that these United States companies produce, and buys 85 percent from the USA army, which means what's left for the rest of the world is only five percent; in addition to the end of Riyadh's investments in the U.S. government, which reaches $800 billion".

Saudi Arabia has already delved into the world of sport with purchases in both F1 and WWE - and football is already part of a wider political battle between the Gulf States.

Analysts warn that the controversy surrounding Khashoggi's fate could trigger a financial crisis, imperiling Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman's ambitious economic reform drive. Germany, France and Britain also jointly called for a "credible investigation". But Riyadh vowed to hit back against any punitive measures.

Business barons including British billionaire Richard Branson and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi have pulled out of the event, dubbed "Davos in the desert", due to the Khashoggi scandal. Trump of late has been crowing that his economic policies gave rise to the rising market values.

  • Rogelio Becker