Published: Fri, October 19, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Trump sends top diplomat to Saudi Arabia over missing journalist

Trump sends top diplomat to Saudi Arabia over missing journalist

President Donald Trump said Monday he would "immediately" send his top diplomat to meet with the king of Saudi Arabia, amid increasing pressure to confront the Middle Eastern ally over the disappearance of a dissident journalist and USA resident, Jamal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi's disappearance has drawn global condemnation and sparked warnings from US President Donald Trump of "severe punishment" if the Saudis were found to be behind his disappearance.

"We hope this joint investigation will help in removing all speculations", Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali said replying to a question on Monday at a briefing ahead of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Saudi visit from Tuesday.

"His denial to me could not have been stronger", Trump told reporters, referring to the king.

Trump quoted the King on Monday as saying that neither he nor his son, the crown prince, had any information about what had happened to Khashoggi.

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to Riyadh today, the State Department said, adding that 'the president has called for a prompt and open investigation'.

In a sign of new cooperation between Turkey and Saudi Arabia that could shed light on the disappearance, Turkish investigators wearing coveralls and gloves entered the consulate Monday. He was joined on the plane by David Hale, the under secretary for political affairs, and Tim Lenderking, a deputy assistant secretary for Arabian Gulf affairs, among others.

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Saudi Arabia has called the accusations "baseless". And on Sunday, Britain, France and Germany released a joint statement expressing "grave concern" about Khashoggi's case and calling for a "credible investigation".

Khashoggi vanished after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. "We'll wait and see, but rest assured that when the president says we will take actions if we find out bad outcomes, he means it".

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Turkish officials fear a Saudi hit team killed and dismembered Khashoggi.

The makeup of the investigative team that entered the diplomatic compound was not immediately clear. "The King told me that Turkey and Saudi Arabia are working hand-in-hand, very closely, on getting to the bottom of what happened".

Trump's comments may be a sign that Washington is preparing to accept Saudi Arabia's efforts to distance its leaders from whatever fate befell Khashoggi at its Istanbul consulate.

Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi royal family and prominent columnist for the Washington Post, has been missing since visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October to retrieve paperwork. Despite being anxious for his safety, he had gone into the consulate in Istanbul to get a document necessary to marry his Turkish fiancee, the partner and friends have said.

When asked about whether the United States will take the arms deal off the table with Saudi Arabia, Trump said "I'm not taking anything off the table". At this moment there are no plans to change the Formula E calendar this season.

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