United States President Donald Trump on Monday said he is sending Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet Saudi Arabia’s King Salman to discuss the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. King Salman has denied having any knowledge about Khashoggi.
“Just spoke to the King of Saudi Arabia who denies any knowledge of whatever may have happened ‘to our Saudi Arabian citizen’,” the president tweeted. “He said that they are working closely with Turkey to find answer. I am immediately sending our Secretary of State to meet with King!”
Khashoggi is a Saudi national who had been a vocal critic of the regime and had been living in self-imposed exile in the US since 2017.
Earlier on Monday, King Salman ordered an internal inquiry into Khashoggi’s disappearance as a joint Turkish-Saudi team was set to search the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where he was last seen on October 2, CNBC reported. He reportedly went to the consulate to collect papers pertaining to his divorce. Turkish officials suspect a 15-member team “came from Saudi Arabia” to murder the dissident.
Trump’s phone call with King Salman came three days after the president said he would be speaking with the king “very soon” about the journalist’s disappearance.
Talking to reporters after the call, Trump said the Saudi leader had denied any knowledge about the disappearance. “It sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers, who knows,” he said, according to CNN. “We are going to try to get to the bottom of it very soon. “But his was a flat denial.”
On Sunday, Saudi Arabia rejected any threats or attempts to undermine the kingdom over the missing journalist and warned of retaliation if there was any punitive action against it. Last week, the kingdom had allowed Turkey to search its consulate in Istanbul.