Pompeo: S. Arabia promised a ‘transparent’ Khashoggi probe

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Journalists gather outside Saudi Arabia’s Consul General’s residence in Istanbul, Turkey, on Oct. 16, 2018. Saudi Arabia has committed to conducting a complete investigation into the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Xinhua

ANKARA (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia has committed to conducting a complete investigation into the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday before departing the kingdom for Turkey.

Mr Pompeo said he would meet with President Tayyip Erdogan in the Turkish capital Ankara, two weeks after Mr Khashoggi vanished when he visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to collect documents he needed for his planned marriage.

Earlier, President Donald Trump gave Saudi Arabia the benefit of the doubt in Mr Khashoggi’s disappearance, while US lawmakers pointed the finger at the Saudi leadership and Western pressure mounted on Riyadh to provide answers.

In Saudi Arabia, Mr Pompeo met with Saudi King Salman, the crown prince and the foreign minister.

“In each of those meetings I stressed the importance of them conducting a complete investigation into the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi. They made a commitment to do that,” he told reporters traveling with him after boarding the plane for Ankara.

“They said it would be a thorough, complete and transparent investigation,” he said. “They indicated they understood that getting that done in a timely, rapid fashion so they could begin to answer important questions.”

Turkish officials have said they believe Mr Khashoggi was murdered and his body removed, which the Saudis have strongly denied. Mr Khashoggi was a US resident who wrote columns for the Washington Post and he was critical of the Saudi government, calling for reforms.

Earlier, in a Twitter post, Mr Trump said Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman denied knowing what happened in the Saudi consulate.

“I think we have to find out what happened first,” Mr Trump told the Associated Press in an interview on Tuesday. “Here we go again with, you know, you’re guilty until proven innocent. I don’t like that.”

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