WASHINGTON/RIYADH – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince told him he did not know what had happened in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi went missing two weeks ago.
“Just spoke with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia who totally denied any knowledge of what took place in their Turkish Consulate,” Trump said on Twitter, referring to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and leading critic of the crown prince, vanished after entering the Saudi consulate in the city on Oct. 2. Turkish officials say they believe he was murdered there and his body removed, which the Saudis strongly deny.
Trump dispatched U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Riyadh to discuss the Khashoggi disappearance with the leaders of Saudi Arabia, a U.S. friend for decades and an ally against Iran.
Trump wrote on Twitter that the crown prince was with Pompeo during the phone call with the president “and told me that he has already started, and will rapidly expand, a full and complete investigation into this matter. Answers will be forthcoming shortly.”
U.S. media outlets reported on Monday that Saudi Arabia will acknowledge Khashoggi was killed in a botched interrogation.
Overnight, Turkish crime scene investigators entered the consulate for the first time since Khashoggi’s disappearance and searched the premises for over nine hours.
Turkish investigators were expanding their search to include the Saudi consul’s residence in Istanbul and consulate vehicles, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday.
The Khashoggi case poses a dilemma for the United States, Britain and other Western nations. Saudi Arabia is the world’s top oil exporter and spends lavishly on Western arms and is a major Sunni Muslim ally.
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