Trump, Pompeo still defending Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi

President Donald Trump places his hands on a glowing orb as he tours with other leaders the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology in Riyadh

President Donald Trump criticized Tuesday the rapidly mounting global condemnation of Saudi Arabia over the mystery of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and warned against a rush to judge.

Separately, ABC News has also learned that Turkish officials believe that Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate following a struggle that lasted eight minutes and that they believe he died of strangulation.

Saudi Arabia has denied the claims, and initially insisted Mr Khashoggi had freely left the embassy.

"With that being said, Saudi Arabia has been a very important ally of ours in the Middle East", he added, pointing to a U.S. -Saudi arms deal that he valued at $110 billion, even though just $14.5 billion of that figure has actually begun to materialize.

A government spokesman said Fox had decided it was not the right time to attend the conference and explicitly tied the decision to Khashoggi's disappearance. "If they knew about it, that would be bad".

Saudi Arabia faces intense global pressure following the disappearance and apparent death of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen and USA resident who has written critically of the Saudi regime.

State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Thursday that Pompeo 'has neither heard a tape nor has he seen a transcript related to Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance'.

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The reluctance of the Turks to turn over hard evidence they have said they have documenting Khashoggi's fate has led US and European security officials to assess that the most brutal accounts of Khashoggi's demise are likely accurate, the sources said.

Khashoggi vanished after entering the consulate for official documents ahead of his upcoming wedding to his Turkish fiancee.

Media sources contend any action against Khashoggi would have to be approved by Bin Salman, the crown prince who has enjoyed high-profile praise in recent months for reforms, such as allowing women to drive. In an interview with the New York Times on Thursday, Trump based his acknowledgment that Khashoggi was dead on intelligence reports. "I will not be going", he said.

Shortly after Trump and Pompeo met at the White House, Mnuchin announced that after consulting the president and his top diplomat "I will not be participating in the Future Investment Initiative summit in Saudi Arabia".

Saudi Arabia has denied allegations by Turkish officials who have said Khashoggi was killed inside the building and his body removed.

Trump previously speculated without providing evidence that "rogue killers" could be responsible. He said, "Each of those meetings, I stressed the importance of them conducting a complete investigation of the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, and they made a commitment, they said they would do that".

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