Saudi Arabia ready to concede writer was killed in consulate

Steven Mnuchin

Over the weekend, US President Donald Trump vowed "severe punishment" if it were proven that Saudi Arabia killed Khashoggi, and sent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to the kingdom on Monday to discuss the incident.

Khashoggi, a Saudi national and United States resident who became increasingly critical of powerful Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, has not been seen since he walked into the Istanbul consulate to sort out marriage paperwork on October 2.

Turkish officials believe Mr Khashoggi was murdered by Saudi agents but Riyadh has always strongly denied this.

Turkish officials have said they have audio and video that proves Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul earlier this month. They provided no further details.

Trump tweets, "Just spoke to the King of Saudi Arabia who denies any knowledge of whatever may have happened 'to our Saudi Arabian citizen'".

He added: "The president did not elaborate on why he said 'rogue killers maybe.' Fox News knows of no intelligence and no evidence to back up that statement".

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

Meanwhile on Monday, a team of Turkish and Saudi investigators entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, the Associated Press reported.

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.

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.

Journalist work in front of the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

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Britain expects Riyadh to provide "a complete and detailed response" to questions over Khashoggi's disappearance, Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman said on Monday.

The defections could jeopardize the large feesglobalbanks and investment firms have been earning from the kingdom - and the promise of even bigger business if Saudi Arabia makes good on plans to privatize its oil industry and boost foreign investment in a variety of sectors.

The Saudi stock market dropped more than 6.8 percent after the statement.

Uber's absence carries a special sting, given both the size of the Saudi investment and its significance for the kingdom's economic reform plans. Several business leaders and media outlets have backed out of the upcoming investment conference in Riyadh, called the Future Investment Initiative.

"Saudi Arabia has also suggested reducing its investments in the U.S. economy, which is now evaluated at $800 billion (€690 billion)", Meyer added. Prince Mohammed told Reuters past year that Blackstone and BlackRock Inc were planning to open offices in the kingdom.

Mr Trump says "rogue killers" could be responsible for his disappearance because the Saudi ruler King Salman has denied knowing what happened.

Saudi Arabia's Arab allies have rushed to its support.

A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman confirmed Australia's ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Austrade's general manager for the Middle East would attend.

The Arab News' headline was above a front-page editorial by Dubai-based real-estate tycoon Khalaf al-Habtoor, calling on Gulf Arab nations to boycott global firms now backing out of a planned economic summit in Riyadh later this month.

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

Trump has said he probably will not cancel a $110 billion arms deal with the Saudi government because that could unnecessarily harm the U.S.

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