Er­do­gan, Trump step up pres­sure over Saudi jour­nal­ist’s dis­ap­pear­ance

Global Times US Edition - - WORLD -

Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan urged Saudi Ara­bia to re­lease footage of jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump de­manded an­swers over his fate, as the king­dom faced grow­ing pres­sure Thurs­day to pro­vide a con­vinc­ing ex­pla­na­tion for his dis­ap­pear­ance.

The Washington Post, the daily to which Khashoggi was a con­trib­u­tor, added to the mys­tery by re­port­ing Saudi Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man had or­dered an oper­a­tion to “lure” the crit­i­cal jour­nal­ist back home.

Khashoggi’s dis­ap­pear­ance has cap- ti­vated the world but also threat­ens to harm brit­tle Turk­ish-Saudi re­la­tions and hurt ef­forts by the crown prince to im­prove the im­age of his coun­try with a re­form drive.

Er­do­gan chal­lenged Saudi Ara­bia to pro­vide CCTV images to back up its ver­sion that Khashoggi had left the con­sulate safely, in­di­cat­ing he did not find the cur­rent Saudi ex­pla­na­tions suf­fi­cient.

“Is it pos­si­ble there were no cam­era sys­tems in a con­sulate, in an em­bassy? Is it pos­si­ble that there was no Saudi cam­era sys­tem where this in­ci­dent took place?” Er­do­gan told Turk­ish re­porters in com­ments pub­lished in news­pa­pers.

The con­sulate said CCTV cam­eras were not work­ing that day and dis­missed the mur­der claims as “base­less.”

The case is also threat­en­ing the strong re­la­tion­ship the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has built with Prince Mo­hammed, who wants to turn the oil-rich con­ser­va­tive king­dom into a hub for in­no­va­tion and re­form.

The two sides have worked to­gether on chal­leng­ing Iran de­spite grow­ing con­cern over the prince’s cam­paign against dis­si­dents, which crit­ics say has shown up the true face of his rule.

In a re­ver­sal from Washington’s ini­tial low-key re­sponse, Trump de­manded an­swers af­ter he spoke to Saudi au­thor­i­ties “at the high­est level.”

“We’re de­mand­ing every­thing. We want to see what’s go­ing on there,” he said. Trump later told “Fox News at Night” that “it would not be a good thing at all” if Saudi in­volve­ment was proven.

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