Trump says 'rogue killers' may be behind Khashoggi disappearance

Saudi Arabia told to investigate disappearance of missing journalist

Saudi Arabia told to investigate disappearance of missing journalist

Khashoggi, a US resident, Washington Post columnist and leading critic of the powerful Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, vanished after entering the consulate on October 2 to get marriage documents.

President Trump, after speaking with King Salman, had dispatched Pompeo to speak to the monarch of the world's top oil exporter over Khashoggi's disappearance.

The head of Hollywood's most powerful talent agency said he is "really concerned" and "upset" about the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi amid reports Tuesday that it jeopardises a US$400 million deal with the kingdom. "It sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers".

Khashoggi left Saudi Arabia in 2017 as Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman increased crack downs on dissidents, writing for Al-Jazeera, the Washington Post, and other worldwide news outlets.

On Monday afternoon, CNN drew a similar picture of the Saudis' impending response, reporting that Riyadh would "acknowledge Jamal Khashoggi's death was the result of an interrogation that went wrong, one that was meant to lead to his abduction from Turkey".

"The Turkish crime scene investigators carried out searches in the consulate and took the things deemed necessary", a senior Turkish official said, acknowledging the difficulty of collecting evidence 13 days after the alleged incident.

Pompeo landed in Riyadh on Tuesday morning and was due to meet the king immediately to discuss the crisis surrounding Khashoggi, who vanished two weeks ago during a visit to the Istanbul consulate. "Trump accepting Saudi Arabia's Khashoggi story without a thorough, independent investigation only enables authoritarian behaviour", said Senator Ed Markey.

The search came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and King Salman also had their first telephone talks since the controversy erupted, in what appeared to be a conciliatory conversation according to official readouts.

Trump said Pompeo may go to Turkey after Saudi Arabia.

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Trump has threatened the kingdom with "severe punishment" if it is shown that Khashoggi was killed inside its Istanbul mission.

Saudi officials previously have called the allegations "baseless", but reports in USA media on Tuesday suggested the kingdom may acknowledge the writer was killed there.

King Salman emphasised the importance of the Turkey-Saudi relationship and said no one should be able to "undermine the strength of this relationship", Saudi's official media reported.

The kingdom "is in much the same position as China is or perhaps Japan back in the 1980s when the ownership of United States treasuries was used as a tool in terms of foreign policy and relationships", said Mr Karasik.

Khashoggi's fiancee Hatice Cengiz, who was waiting outside the consulate the day he disappeared, tweeted a Koranic verse warning those who kill on objective, with the hashtag "Jamal is the Martyr of the Word". European allies have urged "a credible investigation" and accountability for those responsible.

Turkish sources allege he was killed by a 15-strong team of Saudi agents but Riyadh insists that he left the consulate unharmed.

Trump calls Khashoggi's disappearance a "terrible situation".

Khashoggi, a familiar face on Arab talk shows, moved to Washington past year fearing retribution for his criticism of Prince Mohammed, who has cracked down on dissent with arrests.

The World Bank, The New York Times, Bloomberg, CNBC and Uber have also announced their decision to pull out the conference amid the ongoing scandal around Khashoggi's disappearance. Prince Mohammed told Reuters previous year that Blackstone and BlackRock Inc were planning to open offices in the kingdom.

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