United States President Donald Trump on Thursday said it was likely that dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared last week, had died. “It certainly looks that way to me, it’s very sad,” Trump said when asked if the journalist was dead, CNN reported.
Khashoggi, a vocal critic of the Saudi regime, had been living in self-imposed exile in the United States since 2017. He has been missing since he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. On Wednesday, audio recordings accessed by a Turkish daily suggested that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was tortured before being decapitated inside the consulate.
Asked if Saudi Arabia would face consequences if it is found to be involved in his killing, Trump said: “Well it’ll have to be severe, I mean it’s bad, bad stuff. We’ll see what happens, okay?” The US president said he was waiting for the results of Saudi and Turkish investigations into the case, after which he would make a “very strong statement”.
Trump’s remarks came after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo returned from meeting leaders in Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Pompeo said Saudi Crown Price Mohammad bin Salman had assured him of a proper investigation.
Meanwhile, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday pulled out of an investment conference in Saudi Arabia. “Just met with [President Donald Trump] and [Secretary of State Mike Pompeo] and we have decided, I will not be participating in the Future Investment Initiative summit in Saudi Arabia,” Mnuchin tweeted. The conference will be held in Riyadh from October 23 to 25.
Top financial, trade and foreign officials from Britain, France, Germany and the Netherlands have already dropped out of the event. On Thursday, United Kingdom International Trade Secretary Liam Fox also decided not to attend the conference, BBC reported.