Saudi re­jects Turkey claims over journo

Khaleej Times - - FRONT PAGE -

riyadh — Saudi Ara­bia on Satur­day dis­missed ac­cu­sa­tions sur­round­ing the dis­ap­pear­ance of jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi in­side its Is­tan­bul con­sulate as “lies and base­less al­le­ga­tions”.

A Saudi del­e­ga­tion was in Turkey for talks on the case. In the first Saudi min­is­te­rial re­ac­tion to Turk­ish ac­cu­sa­tions about Khashoggi, In­te­rior Min­is­ter Prince Ab­del Aziz bin Saud bin Nayef con­demned “what has been re­ported in cer­tain me­dia con­cern­ing false ac­cu­sa­tions against Saudi Ara­bia...in the case of the dis­ap­pear­ance of ci­ti­zen Khashoggi”.

“What has been re­ported on the mat­ter of or­ders to kill him is a lie and a base­less al­le­ga­tion,” the min­is­ter said in com­ments car­ried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA). He added the king­dom was “in com­pli­ance with in­ter­na­tional laws and con­ven­tions”.

In a rare pub­lic com­ment on the case by a Saudi of­fi­cial, Saudi Ara­bia’s Am­bas­sador to Bri­tain, Prince Mo­hammed bin Nawaf Al Saud, told the BBC that Riyadh was “con­cerned” about its ci­ti­zen.

The Saudi del­e­ga­tion, whose com­po­si­tion was not im­me­di­ately clear, is ex­pected to meet Turk­ish of­fi­cials in Ankara at the week­end, state me­dia said. It is likely they will take part in a joint work­ing group on the case, whose cre­ation was an­nounced by Turk­ish pres­i­den­tial spokesman Ibrahim Kalin fol­low­ing a re­quest by Saudi Ara­bia.

A Saudi of­fi­cial source quoted by SPA news agency said it was “a pos­i­tive move”. Turkey had agreed to the cre­ation of what it de­scribed as a “joint ac­tion team”.

Ankara has so far trod­den care­fully in the con­tro­versy, with the most sen­sa­tional al­le­ga­tions splashed in the pro-govern­ment press but Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan has so far stopped short of di­rectly ac­cus­ing Riyadh of wrong­do­ing. —

is­tan­bul — A del­e­ga­tion of a dozen Saudi of­fi­cials was in Turkey on Satur­day for talks on the dis­ap­pear­ance of jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi af­ter Riyadh slammed as “base­less lies” Turk­ish ac­cu­sa­tions he was killed in­side its Is­tan­bul con­sulate.

With the mys­tery of his fate un­re­solved 11 days af­ter he walked into the con­sulate and failed to reap­pear, a pro-govern­ment Turk­ish daily said Khashoggi had recorded his own in­ter­ro­ga­tion in­side the mis­sion on an Ap­ple Watch.

Turk­ish of­fi­cials have said they be­lieve Khashoggi was killed in­side the con­sulate and lurid claims have been leaked to me­dia that he was tor­tured and even dis­mem­bered.

Saudi in­sists Khashoggi, who en­tered the con­sulate for pa­per­work for his mar­riage to his Turk­ish fi­ancee, left the build­ing safely but has yet to of­fer vis­ual ev­i­dence of this.

The Saudi del­e­ga­tion was in Turkey, due to have talks this week­end in Ankara and take part in a work­ing group on the dis­ap­pear­ance whose cre­ation was an­nounced by Er­do­gan’s spokesman, of­fi­cial Turk­ish me­dia said.

The NTV chan­nel said the del­e­ga­tion is com­posed of 11 peo­ple and had on Fri­day in­spected the con­sulate in Is­tan­bul. The com­po­si­tion of the del­e­ga­tion has not been made clear.

Turk­ish and for­eign me­dia who have camped out­side the con­sulate all week no­ticed the mo­tor­cade ar­riv­ing on Fri­day but it had not been im­me­di­ately clear who were the Saudi per­son­nel en­ter­ing the con­sulate were.

Riyadh has warmly wel­comed the cre­ation of the work­ing group but In­te­rior Min­is­ter Prince Ab­del Aziz bin Saud bin Nayef slammed the claims that Khashoggi was killed in­side the con­sulate.

He de­scribed the al­le­ga­tions as “base­less al­le­ga­tions and lies”.

News re­ports about or­ders to kill Khashoggi “are lies and base­less al­le­ga­tions”, the min­is­ter said in a state­ment car­ried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

Prince Aziz said that Saudi Ara­bia “val­ued the co­op­er­a­tion with the broth­ers in Turkey through the joint in­ves­ti­ga­tion team and other of­fi­cial chan­nels,” and stressed the

Saudi Ara­bia guards the in­ter­est of its cit­i­zens at home and abroad and is keen in par­tic­u­lar to clar­ify the whole truth about the dis­ap­pear­ance of the ci­ti­zen Ja­mal Khashoggi.

Prince Ab­del Aziz bin Saud

Saudi In­te­rior min­is­ter

im­por­tant role of the me­dia in re­port­ing facts and not in­flu­enc­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions and ju­di­cial pro­ceed­ings.

He said the govern­ment of Saudi Ara­bia is “com­mit­ted to its prin­ci­ples, rules and tra­di­tions and is in com­pli­ance with in­ter­na­tional laws and con­ven­tions.”

“He also stressed the King­dom’s keen­ness on the in­ter­est of its cit­i­zens at home and abroad and its keen­ness in par­tic­u­lar to clar­ify the whole truth about the dis­ap­pear­ance of the ci­ti­zen Ja­mal Khashoggi,” the SPA said.

Turkey and Saudi have an un­easy re­la­tion­ship with dis­putes over the oust­ing of the Is­lamist govern­ment in Egypt and block­ade im­posed on Ankara’s ally Qatar .

An­a­lysts say that Turkey is hop­ing to find sup­port from its Nato ally the United States in the case, al­though Ankara-Wash­ing­ton have been in cri­sis over the de­ten­tion for the last two years of a Protes­tant pas­tor. But the pas­tor was freed on and al­lowed to fly home by a Turk­ish court, in a move that could help nor­malise ties. —

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