US, Saudi Arabia agree on 'thorough' investigation of journalist's disappearance

Khashoggi in Manama Bahrain Feb. 1 2015. Turkey claims that Khashoggi who wrote for The Washington Post was killed inside a Saudi diplomatic mission in Turkey

USA secretary of state Mike Pompeo met King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh on Wednesday.

Earlier, in a Twitter post, Trump said Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman denied knowing what happened in the Saudi consulate.

Pompeo met King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss the incident, which has sparked worldwide outrage and brought renewed attention on the authoritarian kingdom's human rights record.

President Donald Trump, who earlier warned of "severe punishment" if the kingdom was found culpable for Khashoggi's disappearance, criticized the allegations against the kingdom and compared it to the accusations of sexual assault leveled against now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing.

Pompeo came to Ankara fresh from talks in Riyadh where he held a 20-minute meeting with King Salman and a far longer meeting with Prince Mohammed, where the pair shook hands and smiled.

In Ankara, the Secretary will meet with Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu to welcome the decision to release Pastor Andrew Brunson and to discuss other issues of bilateral importance.

He reiterated USA concern over Khashoggi's disappearance, Nauert said, adding that both foreign ministers had "agreed on the importance of a thorough, transparent, and timely investigation".

Trump said Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin's trip to attend a Saudi investment conference is still on, but could be cancelled by Friday depending on what the investigation finds.

The Washington Post journalist has not been seen since he walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October. That doesn't mean the Saudis are denying Khashoggi was killed; it just means the crown prince was saying they didn't order it or sanction it.

Pompeo said the Saudis would investigate and hold themselves accountable, but Saudi's royal family is notoriously opaque.

Khashoggi vanished on October 2 after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

But the United States president also said "rogue killers" could be behind the disappearance and that King Salman had told him Saudi Arabia is "working closely with Turkey to find answers".

Prominent U.S. newspapers have reported, citing anonymous sources, that Saudi officials may soon acknowledge Khashoggi's slaying at the consulate but blame it on a botched intelligence operation.

Turkish officials said that a Saudi hit squad killed Mr. Khashoggi and dismembered his body to smuggle it out of the country.

Trump told AP his comment about "rogue killers" was informed by his "feeling" of the conversation with King Salman. "And we'll all get to see if they deliver against that commitment", he said.

It comes as police who searched the nearby Saudi consulate found evidence dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi died there, according to a senior Turkish official.

As he dispatched Pompeo to Riyadh on Monday, Trump told reporters at the White House that King Salman's denials to him about Khashoggi's fate in a phone call "could not have been stronger".

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