Saudi Arabia ready to concede writer was killed in consulate

Jamal Khashoggi

Saudi Arabia is considering an admission that journalist Jamal Khashoggi died during an interrogation that went wrong, USA media reported on Monday.

Yet Meyer says Saudi Arabia's threats are a "bluff" that amount to more of a tactic to save face in front of a domestic audience.

"I heard that report, but nobody knows if it's an official report", Trump told reporters, without elaborating.

Khashoggi was USA resident and wrote articles for The Washington Post, splitting his time between Virginia, London, and Istanbul since he left Saudi Arabia in June 2017. The Khashoggi case itself also threatens to derail Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's global effort to rebrand the kingdom.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia's currency fell to its lowest level in two years over fears that foreign investment inflows could shrink.

James Dorsey, a fellow at Singapore's S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said Saudi Arabia was stepping up moves against criticism.

Turkish forensics and police officers arrive to the Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul on October 15, 2018, to search the premises in the investigation over missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

"So far the oil market is withstanding the verbal war and though prices are slightly higher. they are a good $5 below the peak last week", said Fiona Cincotta, analyst at City Index.

Trump has been facing increasing pressure from lawmakers who are asking him to hold Saudi Arabia to account if the country was behind Khashoggi's abduction or killing.

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White House reporter for CBS Kathryn Watson said Trump has told reporters Pompeo will leave "within an hour".

"The king firmly denied any knowledge of it", Trump told reporters after speaking with King Salman. He offered no evidence for why he thought rogue killers might be involved.

King Salman phoned Erdogan Sunday evening "to thank the president for welcoming the kingdom's proposal to form a joint working group" to discuss the disappearance, the Saudi foreign ministry said. Two leading Republican senators said Congress stands ready to act, including a possible halt of military sales, if President Donald Trump doesn't.

The government critic vanished on 2 October after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

Saudi Arabia's Arab allies have rushed to its support.

"It has been 13 days since the event, so surely proving some of the evidence might be hard, but we believe we will obtain evidence", a Turkish official told Reuters.

"The king has ordered the public prosecutor to open an internal investigation into the Khashoggi matter based on the information from the joint team in Istanbul", an official quoted Reuters.

U.S. President Donald Trump threatened "severe punishment" if it is found that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate. Authorities there believe he was killed in the building by Saudi agents, which Riyadh has dismissed as "lies".

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