US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrives in Turkey for Khashoggi talks

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrives in Turkey for Khashoggi talks
3 min read
17 October, 2018
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Ankara, following the fall-out over the suspected murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Pompeo met Turkey's foreign minister in Ankara on Wednesday [Anadolu]

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Ankara on Wednesday to meet Turkish officials over the suspected murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago.

Pompeo flew to Ankara after meeting Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh on Tuesday for talks on the disappearance of Khashoggi after he entered the Saudi consulate in Turkey on 2 October and never emerged.

Pompeo appeared guarded when questioned on the US response to the incident, following criticism of Washington's soft line.

"They made a commitment that they would show the entire world the results of their investigation.  They also indicated they would get this done quickly," said Pompeo.

He claimed that Riyadh had vowed nobody would be immune from prosecution in their investigation into the incident, but Pompeo refused to say who would be held responsible by Washington. 

"I don't want to talk about any of the facts. They didn't want to either."

It comes as new details emerge in media about the alleged murder of the journalist.

Turkish newspapers and other media outlets have claimed Khashoggi was murdered by being gradually dismembered by a Saudi assassination squad, some of whom the New York Times said had links to the crown prince.

Turkish police searched the consulate on Monday, taking away soil and DNA samples. They appear to have been denied access to the consul's residence on Tuesday, with the consul general fleeing to Saudi Arabia the same day.

Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate on 2 October to complete paperwork regarding his planned marriage to his Turkish fiancée who waited outside the building. He never emerged, with Hatice Cengiz raising the alarm over the disappearance of her fiancée.

Turkish sources have blamed Saudi Arabia directly for the killing, while President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has demanded answers from Riyadh over Khashoggi's disappearance.

Despite mounting pressure on Donald Trump to take a harder line against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - who he views as a key ally in the region - the US president has resisted calls for sanctions.

Pompeo met the crown prince in Riyadh on Tuesday to speak about the suspected killing, with the atmosphere appearing warm and friendly.

The secretary of state claimed Saudi Arabia is conducting a probe into Khashoggi's case, while media have suggested that Riyadh is prepared to say the journalist was killed by "rogue agents".

This is a line that Trump has already echoed, with the US president appearing to brush off claims that the Saudi leadership directly ordered the killing.

"Here we go again with, you know, you're guilty until proven innocent," he said. "I don't like that. We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way as far as I'm concerned," he said according to news agency AP.

This is not a narrative believed by much of the world, least of all the Washington Post - the outlet Khashoggi wrote for before his disappearance - who have led a campaign to uncover the truth about the journalist.

Turkish daily Yeni Safak claimed to have listened to an audio recording of Khashoggi's torture and killing, saying the journalist had his fingers cut off before he was decapitated.

Khashoggi was one of the Arab world's best-known journalists, and fled Saudi Arabia after the crown prince launched a crackdown on critics.

Agencies contributed to this story