Trump criticizes rush to condemn Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi

A still image taken from CCTV video and obtained by TRT World claims to show Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi as he arrives at Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul Turkey Oct. 2 2018. Reuters

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday said, "we will probably know (what happened) by the end of the week".

"You know we need Saudi Arabia in terms of our fight against all of the terrorism, everything that's happening in Iran and other places", he added.

Also in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, Pompeo met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, when he "reiterated the President's concern" over Khashoggi's disappearance, as well as "the President's desire to determine what happened".

The suspects' direct links to the Saudi establishment weakens the suggestion made by Trump that the hit could have been carried out by "rogue killers" in an unauthorised operation. At another point, he said, "I'm not sure yet that it exists".

Pompeo met Turkey's president and foreign minister to discuss Khashoggi's disappearance, a day after Trump gave Saudi Arabia the benefit of the doubt while USA lawmakers pointed the finger at the Saudi leadership.

Pompeo was heading next to Turkey, where officials have accused the Saudis of using a 15-member team to kill Khashoggi inside the consulate.

But Pompeo was tight-lipped, telling journalists he did not want "to talk about any of the facts".

A Turkish investigator team and prosecutors conducted a nine-hour search in Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul and will search Wednesday the residence of the Saudi consul, who returned to his country on Tuesday.

As Saudi Arabia's green national flag flapped overhead, forensics teams entered the residence, only 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from the consulate where Khashoggi vanished October 2 while trying to pick up paperwork to get married. "You are going to get me in trouble". President Donald Trump, who initially came out hard on the Saudis over the disappearance but since has backed off, said Wednesday that the USA wanted Turkey to turn over any audio or video recording it had of Khashoggi's alleged killing "if it exists".

"They promised accountability for each of those persons that they determined as a result of their investigation deserves accountability", Pompeo said after his meeting with the Saudis, which was punctuated by broad grins and capped with a statement expressing Pompeo's gratitude for their "investigation".

The Washington Post has previously cited unnamed USA and Turkish officials pointing to audio and video recordings that prove Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate and was then dismembered.

He had been critical of Prince Mohammed, who has cracked down on dissent with arrests.

Pompeo thanked the king for Saudi Arabia's strong partnership with the United States, Nauert said, adding that the two leaders had discussed a number of regional and bilateral issues.

The New York Times says a suspect identified by Turkey in the disappearance was in Crown Prince Mohammed's inner circle. The consul-general had left Turkey for Riyadh on Tuesday.

"They have a tremendous order, $110 billion", he said, in reference to U.S. arms sales to the Kingdom.

Members of the US Congress, including some of Trump's fellow Republicans, are among the loudest voices in the United States demanding answers and action on Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who moved to Washington previous year fearing retribution for his critical views.

The High Commissioner noted that Saudi Arabia and Turkey were both party to the "UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment".

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