Trump vows to get truth about Khashoggi

Santa Fe New Mexican - - NATION&WORLD - By Zeke Miller and Suzan Fraser

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 yet 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 later this month. Mnuchin had in­di­cated ear­lier Fri­day he still 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 that 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.”

A del­e­ga­tion from Saudi Ara­bia ar­rived in Turkey on Fri­day as part of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the writer’s dis­ap­pear­ance. In a state­ment posted on Twit­ter, the Saudis wel­comed the joint ef­fort and said the king­dom was keen “to sus­tain the se­cu­rity and safety of its cit­i­zenry, wher­ever they might hap­pen to be.”

Cen­giz said she and the jour­nal­ist would have been mar­ried this week and had planned a life to­gether split be­tween Is­tan­bul and the United States, where Khashoggi had been liv­ing in self-im­posed ex­ile since last year.

She had ear­lier ap­pealed for help to Trump, who ear­lier this week said he would in­vite her to the White House.

Cen­giz didn’t re­spond to a ques­tion about that, but ear­lier on Fri­day she urged Trump on Twit­ter to use his clout to find out what hap­pened.

“What about Ja­mal Khashoggi?” she wrote in re­sponse to a tweet by Trump in which he said he said he had been “work­ing very hard” to free an Amer­i­can evan­gel­i­cal pas­tor who has been held for two years in Turkey. Andrew Brun­son was re­leased late Fri­day.

Amid grow­ing con­cern over Khashoggi’s fate, French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron said his coun­try wanted to know “the whole truth” about the writer’s dis­ap­pear­ance, call­ing the early de­tails about the case “very wor­ry­ing.”

In Ger­many, Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel’s spokesman, St­ef­fen Seib­ert, said Ber­lin was also “very con­cerned” about the writer’s dis­ap­pear­ance and called on Saudi Ara­bia to “par­tic­i­pate fully” in clear­ing up re­ports that he had been killed.

Global busi­ness lead­ers be­gan re­assess­ing their ties with Saudi Ara­bia, stok­ing pres­sure on the Gulf king­dom to ex­plain what hap­pened to Khashoggi.

Khashoggi, who was con­sid­ered close to the Saudi royal fam­ily, had be­come a critic of the cur­rent gov­ern­ment and Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man, the 33-year-old heir ap­par­ent who has in­tro­duced re­forms but has shown lit­tle tol­er­ance for crit­i­cism.

As a con­trib­u­tor to the Washington Post, Khashoggi has writ­ten ex­ten­sively about Saudi Ara­bia, in­clud­ing crit­i­cism of its war in Ye­men, its re­cent diplo­matic spat with Canada and its ar­rest of women’s rights ac­tivists af­ter the lift­ing of a ban on women driv­ing.

Those poli­cies are all seen as ini­tia­tives of the crown prince, who has also presided over a roundup of ac­tivists and busi­ness­men.


A mem­ber of a se­cu­rity team ex­its Saudi Ara­bia’s con­sulate in Is­tan­bul on Fri­day. A se­nior Turk­ish of­fi­cial says Turkey and Saudi Ara­bia will form a joint work­ing group to look into the dis­ap­pear­ance of Saudi jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi.

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