Mike Pompeo (C) has advised the US president to give Saudi Arabia more time for the Khashoggi probe.The US has given Saudi Arabia more time to investigate the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi as Turkish investigators searched Riyadh’s consulate in Istanbul for a second time in a hunt for clues.
US President Donald Trump met for less than an hour with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday, who gave the president an update on his talks this week with Saudi and Turkish officials about the Khashoggi case amid concern the journalist was killed in the consulate after entering it on October 2.
Referring to the Saudis, Pompeo said he told Trump that “we ought to give them a few more days to complete” their investigation to get a full understanding of what happened.
“I think it’s important for us all to remember, too – we have a long, since 1932, a long strategic relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Pompeo said, also calling Saudi Arabia “an important counterterrorism partner”.
Pompeo told reporters he had made clear to the Saudis in his visit to Riyadh that “we take this matter with respect to Mr Khashoggi very seriously.
“They made clear to me that they too understand the serious nature of the disappearance of Mr Khashoggi. They also assured me that they will conduct a complete, thorough investigation of all of the facts surrounding Mr Khashoggi and that they will do so in a timely fashion,” Pompeo added.
Turkish investigators left the Saudi consulate in Istanbul early on Thursday after again searching the building and consular vehicles.
The incident has caused a global outcry but also poses a dilemma for the US and other Western nations, which have lucrative business dealings with the authoritarian kingdom and count on it as a leading Middle East ally and opponent of their common enemy Iran.
How Western allies deal with Riyadh will hinge on the extent to which they believe responsibility for Khashoggi’s disappearance lies with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Saudi authorities.
Trump has shown no willingness to mete out harsh punishment to Saudi Arabia. He said on Wednesday he did not want to abandon Saudi Arabia and needed to see evidence of any role by Riyadh.
And Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow did not have enough information about Khashoggi’s disappearance to justify harming ties with Riyadh.
His government would wait for details, Putin told a forum in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Thursday.