Published: Tue, October 16, 2018
Markets | By Josh Butler

Saudi government reportedly grappling with Khashoggi explanation to save face

Saudi government reportedly grappling with Khashoggi explanation to save face

Hours prior, President Trump announced in a tweet that he spoke with Saudi Arabia's King Salman about Khashoggi.

'We encourage joint Saudi-Turkish efforts in that regard, and expect the Saudi Government to provide a complete and detailed response'.

A team of cleaners were reported to have entered the consulate on Monday lunchtime - "causing a minor flurry of excitement", according to one reporter - hours before the search team showed up.

Earlier Monday, US President Donald Trump told reporters that King Salman of Saudi Arabia strongly denied that his government had any involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance.

But Trump had a theory. "But his was a flat denial".

October 14: In an interview aired on CBS's "60 Minutes," Trump addresses Khashoggi's disappearance. "And we would be very upset and angry if that were the case".

"As of this moment they deny it, and they deny it vehemently".

Trump has threatened "severe punishment" if it turns out Khashoggi was killed in the consulate, although he has ruled out cancelling arms deals worth tens of billions of dollars with Saudi Arabia.

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The report said that the Saudi government was preparing to say Jamal Khashoggi died during an interrogation that went wrong. Both reports cited anonymous people said to be familiar with the Saudi plans.

If the Saudis do offer this sequence of events, they will need to account for why they have claimed, for the past two weeks, that Khashoggi walked out of the consulate. Pompeo will "immediately" travel to meet the Saudi king, Trump wrote.

But speaking to 60 minutes on Saturday, he warned the USA would be "very upset and angry" if the Saudis ordered Mr Khashoggi's killing.

The king thanked Erdogan for welcoming the Saudi proposal for the joint group and said no one could undermine their relationship. "It sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers". However, it was not clear whether data from Khashoggi's watch could have been transmitted to his phone outside, or how investigators could have retrieved it without obtaining the watch themselves.

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

While Turkish officials have not officially stated what they believe happened to Khashoggi, they have reportedly told the USA that they have video and audio that suggests the journalist was tortured and murdered by a team of Saudis.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was also asked Monday whether Canada would hit Saudi Arabia with sanctions under laws such as the Magnitsky Act, which targets the property of corrupt officials who have committed gross violations of internationally recognized human rights. A bone saw was used to dismember Khashoggi's body and it was placed in handheld cases and transported back to Saudi Arabia. Great Britain, France and Germany also vowed retaliation.

Khashoggi was a United States resident and wrote for The Washington Post, splitting his time among Virginia, London, and Istanbul since leaving Saudi Arabia.

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