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Trump says Saudi King has ‘firmly denied any knowledge’ about Khashoggi case

Trump says Saudi King has ‘firmly denied any knowledge’ about Khashoggi case

The US President has sent Secretary of State Pompeo to Riyadh over the case

US President Donald Trump has dispatched Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet King Salman over the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi.

The case has strained the Americans’ relationship with the Saudis.

Khashoggi, a US resident and Washington Post columnist, vanished after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago to get marriage documents.

Turkish officials say they believe he was killed, but Saudi Arabia has strongly denied the allegations and has denounced such assertions as “lies,” saying he left the building shortly after entering.

“The king firmly denied any knowledge of it,” Trump told reporters after speaking with King Salman. “He didn’t really know, maybe – I don’t want to get into his mind but it sounded to me – maybe these could have been rogue killers. Who knows?”

Trump called Pompeo on Sunday night and asked him to have face-to-face meetings with the Saudi leaders, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

Trump said Pompeo may go to Turkey after Saudi Arabia.

A joint Turkish-Saudi team, which is investigating the case, searched the Saudi consulate in Istanbul late on Monday.

A Saudi official, not authorised to speak publicly, told Reuters that the king had also ordered an internal investigation based on information from the joint team in Istanbul.

Members of his family called for an investigation, in a statement released on Monday.

“We are sadly and anxiously following the conflicting news regarding the fate of our father after losing contact with him two weeks ago,” they said.

“The strong moral and legal responsibility which our father instilled in us obliges us to call for the establishment of an independent and impartial international commission to inquire into the circumstances of his death.”

Meanwhile Saudi Arabia has said it will retaliate against any pressure or economic sanctions from the west “with greater action,” and Arab allies have rallied to support it.

Also read: UAE expresses solidarity with Saudi over ‘politicised campaign’

GCC, allies should ‘boycott’ companies backing out of Saudi summit – Al Habtoor

The Saudi riyal fell to its lowest in two years and its international bond prices slipped over fears that foreign investment could shrink amid international pressure.

The Saudi stock market had tumbled 7.2 per cent over the previous two trading days but rebounded 2 per cent on Monday.

With inputs from Reuters

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