Saudi Arabia transfers $100m to State Department as Khashoggi crisis deepens

Mike Pompeo

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday. Leah Millis Reuters

President Donald Trump said on Wednesday the United States has asked Turkey for any audio or video evidence it may have related to the disappearance of USA -based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi but was not sure whether any such evidence exists.

The Washington Post published the final column from journalist Jamal Khashoggi - who was allegedly tortured and killed inside Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul.

Trump said the USA has asked Turkey for audio and video it may have related to Khashoggi's disappearance after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The Trump administration is relying on Saudi Arabia for a slew of crucial foreign policy priorities, from funding for Syria's reconstruction and the fight against extremists there, to getting Saudi financial support for a Middle East peace plan.

Khashoggi hadn't lived in Saudi Arabia since he moved to the US earlier this year. But he's not confirming there is any such recording, as reported by Turkish media, and he's continuing to urge patience while Saudi Arabia says it's investigating.

A team of a dozen police and prosecutors, including forensics experts in white overalls, entered the residence of Mohammed al-Otaibi, a day after he flew out of Istanbul for Riyadh.

Pompeo's tour coincided with the disclosure of further lurid snippets as to how Khashoggi was said to have been tortured, killed and dismembered in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

Pompeo has said Riyadh should be given a few more days to complete an investigation into the disappearance of the journalist, a prominent critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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"They made a commitment to hold anyone connected to any wrongdoing that may be found accountable for that, whether they are a senior officer or official", Mr. Pompeo said.

Khashoggi left Saudi Arabia after the kingdom's government banned him from using Twitter and pressured the popular Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat to cancel his column.

USA intelligence reports, accounts from Khashoggi's friends, passport records and social media profiles paint a picture of a brutal killing that at least had its roots in Mohammed's desire to silence Khashoggi, a former palace insider turned critic of the government and the prince in particular.

Turkish sources have told Reuters the authorities have an audio recording indicating Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate.

Mr. Trump stopped short of saying the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was responsible for Mr. Khashoggi's death. "You are going to get me into trouble", to which one of the men purportedly responded, "If you want to stay alive, shut up".

Asked in a Fox Business Network interview if Washington could abandon Riyadh, Trump said: "I do not want to do that". "I have strong opinions but that (the investigation) is the job of the judiciary", he said.

Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud has said claims "about orders to kill [Khashoggi] are lies and baseless allegations against the government of the kingdom".

The US secretary of state and MBS at their meeting "agreed on the importance of a thorough, transparent, and timely investigation that provides answers" over Khashoggi's disappearance, according to a US statement.

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