U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Riyadh Tuesday to meet with King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to discuss the disappearance of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but Pompeo said the leaders were not interested in getting into the facts of the situation.
President Donald Trump dispatched Pompeo to Saudi Arabia almost immediately after speaking with King Salman Monday over the phone. The secretary of state told reporters that the specific details of The Washington Post columnist’s whereabouts were not discussed.
“I don’t want to talk about any of the facts,” Pompeo told reporters in Riyadh.
“They didn’t want to either, in that they want to have the opportunity to complete this investigation in a thorough way,” he added.
Multiple suspects identified by Turkish investigators and independently confirmed by The New York Times as being present at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul the day Khashoggi went missing have direct or close ties to the crown prince.
Today, I was in #SaudiArabia where I met with King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Foreign Minister al-Jubeir. We had direct and candid conversations. Wednesday, I fly to Ankara to meet with Turkish officials. Read my full statement here: https://t.co/99fU8gxPEw
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) October 16, 2018
If those identified are responsible for Khashoggi’s death, it would undercut Trump’s suggestion that the murder was random and would put pressure on world leaders to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for such a violation of human rights. (RELATED: Multiple Suspects In Alleged Murder Of Jamal Khashoggi Have Links To Saudi Crown Prince)
Pompeo said Tuesday that the crown prince promised him a full investigation. Saudi Arabia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the disappearance of Khashoggi, who is also a U.S. resident.
“They told me they were going to conduct a thorough, complete, transparent investigation,” Pompeo said.
“They made a commitment, too, to hold anyone connected to any wrongdoing that may be found accountable for that, whether they are a senior officer or official,” he said.
If the Turkish reports are true and Khashoggi was murdered by Saudi agents with direct links to the crown prince, Pompeo would be under pressure to hold the nation responsible.
Trump warned Tuesday against rushing to judgement on the Khashoggi case, and compared the situation to that of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s allegations of sexual assault.
“Here we go again with, you know, you’re guilty until proven innocent. I don’t like that,” Trump told The Associated Press in an interview.
Striking a similar tone to Trump’s, Pompeo said it’s reasonable to give the Saudis the benefit of the doubt until after their investigation is complete.
“I’m waiting for the investigation to be completed. They promised that they would achieve that, and I’m counting on it, and they gave me their word,” Pompeo said.
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