Trump vows to find truth about Saudi journalist

Houston Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - By Zeke Miller and Suzan Fraser

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump de­clares the U.S. will un­cover what hap­pened to journalist Ja­mal Khashoggi, whose dis­ap­pear­ance in Is­tan­bul has cap­tured world­wide at­ten­tion.

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump de­clared Fri­day the U.S. will un­cover the truth about what hap­pened to journalist and U.S. res­i­dent Ja­mal Khashoggi, whose pos­si­ble mur­der at Saudi hands af­ter dis­ap­pear­ing in Is­tan­bul has cap­tured world­wide at­ten­tion.

Trump promised to per­son­ally call Saudi Ara­bia’s King Sal­man soon about “the ter­ri­ble si­t­u­a­tion in Turkey.”

“We’re go­ing to find out what hap­pened,” Trump pledged when ques­tioned by re­porters in Cincin­nati where he was head­lin­ing a po­lit­i­cal rally.

Khashoggi, a force­ful critic of the Saudi gov­ern­ment, went miss­ing more than a week ago af­ter en­ter­ing a Saudi con­sulate in Is­tan­bul, and Turk­ish of­fi­cials have said they be­lieve he was mur­dered there. U.S. of­fi­cials say they are seek­ing an­swers from the Saudi gov­ern­ment and are not ac­cept­ing the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment’s con­clu­sions.

The Saudis have called ac­cu­sa­tions that they are re­spon­si­ble for Khashoggi’s dis­ap­pear­ance “base­less.” Widely broad­cast video shows the 59-year-old writer and Wash­ing­ton Post con­trib­u­tor en­ter­ing the con­sulate on Tues­day of last week, but there is none show­ing him leav­ing.

Turkey and Saudi Ara­bia are im­por­tant U.S. al­lies in the re­gion. Trump said Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steve Mnuchin will eval­u­ate whether to at­tend a Saudi in­vestor con­fer­ence this month. Mnuchin had in­di­cated early Fri­day he planned to at­tend.

On Thurs­day, Trump had said U.S. re­la­tions with Saudi Ara­bia were “ex­cel­lent” and he was re­luc­tant to scut­tle highly lu­cra­tive U.S. weapons deals with Riyadh. A num­ber of mem­bers of Congress have pressed the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to im­pose sanc­tions on the coun­try in re­sponse to the Khashoggi af­fair.

Mean­while, Khashoggi’s fi­ancée said Fri­day in an in­ter­view with the As­so­ci­ated Press that he was not ner­vous when he en­tered the Saudi Con­sulate to ob­tain pa­per­work re­quired for their mar­riage.

“He said, ‘See you later my dar­ling,’ and went in,” Hat­ice Cen­giz told the AP.

Cit­ing anony­mous sources, the Post re­ported Fri­day that Turkey’s gov­ern­ment has told U.S. of­fi­cials it has au­dio and video proof Khashoggi was killed and dis­mem­bered. The AP has not been able to con­firm that re­port. In writ­ten re­sponses to ques­tions by the AP, Cen­giz said Turk­ish au­thor­i­ties had not told her about any record­ings and Khashoggi was of­fi­cially “still miss­ing.” She said in­ves­ti­ga­tors were ex­am­in­ing his cell­phones, which he had left with her.

Saudi Ara­bia says Khashoggi left the con­sulate. He hasn’t been seen since, though his fi­ancée was wait­ing out­side.

A del­e­ga­tion from Saudi Ara­bia ar­rived in Turkey on Fri­day as part of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the writer’s dis­ap­pear­ance.

Pet­ros Gian­nakouris / As­so­ci­ated Press

A guard mans the en­trance of Saudi Ara­bia’s Is­tan­bul con­sulate. A Turk­ish of­fi­cial says the Turks and Saudis will probe the fate of Ja­mal Khashoggi.

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