Saudi FM says Riyadh doesn't know where Khashoggi's body is
Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Sunday the kingdom did not know where the body of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi was, despite admitting to the killing and calling it a "tremendous mistake."
Speaking in an interview on Fox News, Jubeir said the Saudi leadership initially believed Khashoggi had left its consulate in Istanbul, where he was last seen on 2 October.
But following "reports we were getting from Turkey," Saudi authorities began an investigation, which discovered he was killed in the diplomatic mission.
"We don't know, in terms of details, how. We don't know where the body is," Jubeir said, adding that the Saudi public prosecutor had put out orders to detain 18 individuals, "the first step in a long journey."
He termed the killing a "tremendous mistake" but one which the US-Saudi relationship would eventually overcome.
"The individuals who did this did this outside the scope of their authority. There obviously was a tremendous mistake made, and what compounded the mistake was the attempt to try to cover up," Jubeir told Fox News.
"That is unacceptable in any government. These things unfortunately happen. We want to make sure that those who are responsible are punished and we want to make sure we have procedures in place to prevent it from happening again."
Saudi journalist and Washington Post contributor Khashoggi vanished on 2 October after entering the consulate to obtain documents for his upcoming marriage.
After a fortnight of denials, Saudi authorities admitted on Saturday that Khashoggi, a prominent critic of powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed after entering the consulate in Turkey on 2 October.
But it has faced a growing chorus of incredulity over its belated explanation that he died in a "brawl", as world powers demand answers and the whereabouts of his body.
British and French officials denounced the latest Saudi explanation as insufficient. Canada's foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, said the Saudi version lacked "consistency and credibility."
Several senior members of Trump's Republican Party, meanwhile, said they believed Prince Mohammed bin Salman was linked to the killing, and one called for a "collective" Western response if a link is proved.
US senator Rand Paul said on Sunday that the crown prince should be "replaced", calling Riyadh's explanation of Jamal Khashoggi's death "insulting".
Earlier, Democrat senator Dick Durbin said that Mohammed bin Salman "has his fingerprints all over" Khashoggi's death, while Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the crown prince has "now crossed a line and there has to be a punishment and a price paid for that."