- US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Saudi leadership is working to “ensure accountability” for the events surrounding the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
- Pompeo said Saudi leaders pledged to conduct a “thorough, transparent, and timely investigation.”
- The secretary was sent to Riyadh on Monday at the request of US President Donald Trump, as news emerged that authorities found newly painted services inside the consulate, suggesting a potential cover-up.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday that the Saudi leadership is working to “ensure accountability” for the events surrounding the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist who was last seen entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2.
Pompeo was sent to Riyadh on Monday at the request of President Donald Trump to discuss Khashoggi’s disappearance with the leaders there. His arrival came hours after a Turkish forensics team concluded their sweep of the consulate and reportedly found surfaces there which had been newly painted over.
“We had direct and candid conversations,” Pompeo said of his meetings with the Saudi King Salman, his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir.
Pompeo added that each of them “strongly denied” knowledge of what transpired inside the consulate, and pledged to conduct a “thorough, transparent, and timely investigation.”
Pompeo added that the Crown Prince called Trump and conveyed to him that a “serious and credible investigation is already underway,” and pledged that the Saudi prosecutor will soon produce “a full and complete conclusion with full transparency for the world to see.”
“My assessment from these meetings is that there is serious commitment to determine all the facts and ensure accountability, including accountability for Saudi Arabia’s senior leaders or senior officials.”
Pompeo next heads to Turkey to meet with senior officials and discuss findings from their ongoing investigation into the 59-year-old Khashoggi’s disappearance. Turkish authorities have accused Saudi Arabia of murdering the journalist using a 15-man hit squad that flew in and out of Istanbul on the day Khashoggi was last seen.
Trump on Tuesday defended the Saudis against rapidly mounting global criticism, and warned the world of making a judgment without all the facts in place.
“I think we have to find out what happened first,” he told the Associated Press in an interview published late Tuesday. Trump then leaned into a similar defence he employed as sexual misconduct allegations threatened to derail his Supreme Court nominee’s confirmation.
“Here we go again with, you know, you’re guilty until proven innocent. 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.”
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