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October 18, 2018

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Pompeo refuses to blame key ally Saudi

SECRETARY of State Mike Pompeo yesterday refused to blame key US ally Saudi Arabia over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi even as Riyadh faced new claims he was killed and tortured inside its Istanbul consulate.

After talks with the Saudi leadership in Riyadh marked by expressions of mutual goodwill, Pompeo in Ankara met President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose government also remains wary of giving public details about Khashoggi’s fate.

Turkish media published gruesome new allegations that Khashoggi was killed by being gradually dismembered by a Saudi assassination squad, some of whom the New York Times said were tied to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

But Pompeo declared he did not want “to talk about any of the facts,” while President Donald Trump said innocence must be presumed, drawing a parallel with his US Supreme Court judge nominee who faced sexual assault accusations.

The controversy has blown a massive hole in attempts by Prince Mohammed to promote himself as a modern reformer and led to a spate of cancellations from a major Riyadh investment conference scheduled next week.

Khashoggi, a former regime insider who became critical of Prince Mohammed, has not been seen since he stepped inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to sort out marriage paperwork. On Monday, Turkish police undertook an eight-hour search at the consulate, taking away soil and DNA samples. Erdogan said toxic material was found which had been “painted over.”


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