Wednesday, 17 October 2018

ON THE NEWS

Trump Says Saudi Prince Denies  Knowing What Happened at Consulate

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince told him he did not know what had happened in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi went missing two weeks ago.

“Just spoke with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia who totally denied any knowledge of what took place in their Turkish Consulate,” Trump said on Twitter, referring to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and leading critic of the crown prince, vanished after entering the Saudi consulate in the city on Oct. 2. Turkish officials say they believe he was murdered there and his body removed, which the Saudis strongly deny.

Trump dispatched U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Riyadh to discuss the Khashoggi disappearance with the leaders of Saudi Arabia, a U.S. friend for decades and an ally against Iran.

Trump wrote on Twitter that the crown prince was with Pompeo during the phone call with the president “and told me that he has already started, and will rapidly expand, a full and complete investigation into this matter. Answers will be forthcoming shortly.”

Suspects in Khashoggi Case Had Ties to Saudi Crown Prince
One of the suspects identified by Turkey in the disappearance of the Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi was a frequent companion of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — seen disembarking from airplanes with him in Paris and Madrid and photographed standing guard during his visits this year to Houston, Boston and the United Nations.

Three others are linked by witnesses and other records to the Saudi crown prince’s security detail, according to "The New York Times".

A fifth is a forensic doctor who holds senior positions in the Saudi Interior Ministry and medical establishment, a figure of such stature that he could be directed only by a high-ranking Saudi authority.

If, as the Turkish authorities say, these men were present at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul where Mr. Khashoggi disappeared on Oct. 2, they might provide a direct link between what happened and Prince Mohammed. That would undercut any suggestion that Mr. Khashoggi died in a rogue operation unsanctioned by the crown prince. Their connection to him could also make it more difficult for the White House and Congress to accept such an explanation.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration pushed back on Tuesday against rising condemnation of Saudi Arabia and showed support for its crown prince. In his strongest language to date over the missing journalist, Mr. Trump said in an interview with The Associated Press: “Here we go again with you’re guilty until proven innocent.”

Hours earlier, Mr. Trump’s top diplomat, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, appeared in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, smiling and shaking hands with the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

Mr. Pompeo issued a statement saying Saudi leaders had promised a “thorough, transparent, and timely investigation” into what had befallen the journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, after he entered the consulate on Oct. 2. Mr. Pompeo also said the Saudi leaders had repeated their emphatic denials of any involvement in Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance.

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Trump Says Saudi Prince Denies  Knowing What Happened at Consulate U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that Saudi Arabia’s crown p...

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