Turkish officials say they have evidence that indicates Riyadh critic and journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed and dismembered at the Saudi consular building in Istanbul he visited on October 2 to get documents for his planned marriage.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrives in Ankara, Turkey, on October 17, 2018.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrives in Ankara, Turkey, on October 17, 2018. (Reuters)

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu have met with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Ankara who briefed them on his talks in Riyadh on Tuesday with Saudi leaders who deny any knowledge of the fate of prominent Saudi journalist and government critic, Jamal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi, a US resident, has not been seen in public since he entered the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

After his meeting with Pompeo, the Turkish Foreign Minister said the investigation at the Saudi Consul's residence in Istanbul will continue along with all consular vehicles.

Cavusoglu said Pompeo communicated US President Donald Trump’s messages and concerns regarding Khashoggi’s disappearance to President Erdogan.

Pompeo flew in after holding talks with the Saudi King, the Crown Prince and kingdom's foreign minister a day earlier over the case of journalist Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance.

Pompeo was dispatched to Saudi Arabia by US President Donald Trump following reports that Khashoggi, a US resident, was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where the Riyadh critic went on October 2 to collect documents for his planned marriage.

Turkish officials say they have evidence that indicates Khashoggi was killed and dismembered in the consular building.

Before departing for Turkey, Pompeo said Saudi Arabia has committed to conducting a complete investigation into the disappearance of Khashoggi.

Earlier, President Donald Trump gave Saudi Arabia the benefit of the doubt in Khashoggi's disappearance, while US lawmakers pointed the finger at the Saudi leadership and Western pressure mounted on Riyadh to provide answers.

In Saudi Arabia, Pompeo met with Saudi King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir.

"In each of those meetings, I stressed the importance of them conducting a complete investigation into the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi. They made a commitment to do that," he told reporters travelling with him after boarding the plane for Ankara.

"They said it would be a thorough, complete and transparent investigation," he said. "They indicated they understood that getting that done in a timely, rapid fashion so they could begin to answer important questions."

Khashoggi was a US resident who wrote columns for the Washington Post and he was critical of the Saudi government, calling for reforms.

Earlier, in a Twitter post, Trump said Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman denied knowing what happened in the Saudi consulate.

"I think we have to find out what happened first," Trump told the Associated Press in an interview on Tuesday. 

"Here we go again with, you know, you're guilty until proven innocent. I don't like that."

How the crown prince, often referred to as MBS, emerges when the dust settles over Khashoggi's disappearance is a test of how the West will deal with Saudi Arabia in the future. 

The issue will be to what extent the West believes the responsibility lies with MBS for Khashoggi.

"They made no exceptions to who they would hold accountable. They were very clear: they understand the importance of this issue, they are determined to get to the bottom of it," Pompeo told reporters.

Asked whether they said Khashoggi was alive or dead, Pompeo said: "They didn't talk about any of the facts."

MBS, who has enjoyed a close relationship with the Trump administration, has painted himself as the face of a new, vibrant Saudi Arabia, diversifying its economy away from reliance on oil and making some social changes.

But there has been mounting criticism against some of the prince's moves.

These include Riyadh's involvement in the war in Yemen, the arrest of women activists and a diplomatic dispute with Canada. 

The kingdom also denied an assertion by France that it held Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al Hariri captive in November 2017.

Despite Western concerns about Saudi Arabia's human rights record, Trump still says he is unwilling to pull out of weapons sales agreements with Riyadh. 

Source: TRTWorld and agencies