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Pompeo, Turkish Leaders Meet on Writer 10/17 06:33

   A pro-government Turkish newspaper on Wednesday published a gruesome 
recounting of the alleged slaying of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi 
Consulate in Istanbul, just as America's top diplomat arrived in the country 
for talks over the Washington Post columnist's disappearance.

   ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- A pro-government Turkish newspaper on Wednesday 
published a gruesome recounting of the alleged slaying of Saudi writer Jamal 
Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, just as America's top diplomat 
arrived in the country for talks over the Washington Post columnist's 
disappearance.

   The report by Yeni Safak adds to the ever-increasing pressure on Saudi 
Arabia to explain what happened to Khashoggi, who vanished Oct. 2 while 
visiting the consulate to pick up paperwork he needed to get married.

   U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held separate meetings with Turkey's 
president and foreign minister for around 40 minutes each on Wednesday in the 
Turkish capital, Ankara. No details were immediately released about the talks 
with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. The 
three posed for photos, but said nothing in front of reporters.

   Pompeo met with Saudi King Salman and his son, the 33-year-old Crown Prince 
Mohammed bin Salman, on Tuesday. Before leaving Riyadh, Pompeo told reporters 
that the Saudi leaders "made no exceptions on who they would hold accountable."

   "They made a commitment to hold anyone connected to any wrongdoing that may 
be found accountable for that, whether they are a senior officer or official," 
Pompeo said.

   No major decisions are made outside of the ultraconservative kingdom's 
ruling Al Saud family. Khashoggi had fled the country last year amid the rise 
of Prince Mohammed, whom he wrote critically about in the Post.

   The Yeni Safak report cited what it described as an audio recording of 
Khashoggi's slaying, which it said showed the writer was tortured.

   The newspaper said Saudi Consul General Mohammed al-Otaibi could be heard on 
the tape, telling those allegedly torturing Khashoggi: "Do this outside; you're 
going to get me in trouble."

   The newspaper said one of the Saudis torturing Khashoggi replied: "Shut up 
if you want to live when you return to (Saudi) Arabia."

   Saudi officials have not responded to repeated requests for comment from The 
Associated Press in recent days. Al-Otaibi left Turkey on Tuesday afternoon, 
Turkish state media reported.

   Security services in Turkey have used pro-government media to leak details 
of Khashoggi's case, adding to the pressure on the kingdom.

   President Donald Trump, who earlier warned of "severe punishment" if the 
kingdom was found culpable for Khashoggi's disappearance, criticized the 
allegations against the kingdom and compared it to the accusations of sexual 
assault leveled against now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his 
confirmation hearing.

   "Here we go again with you're guilty until proven innocent," Trump told the 
AP in an interview.

   That attitude does not appear to be shared with Congress, as one prominent 
Republican senator said he believed that the crown prince, widely known as MBS, 
had Khashoggi "murdered."

   "This guy has got to go," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South 
Carolina, speaking on Fox television. "Saudi Arabia, if you're listening, there 
are a lot of good people you can choose, but MBS has tainted your country and 
tainted himself."

   On Tuesday, a high-level Turkish official told the AP that police found 
"certain evidence" of Khashoggi's slaying at the consulate, without 
elaborating. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the 
investigation was ongoing.

   Police plan to search the Saudi consul general's home, as well as some of 
the country's diplomatic vehicles, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu 
said. Leaked surveillance video shows that diplomatic cars traveled to the 
consul general's home shortly after Khashoggi went into the consulate.

   Police put up barricades around the consul's official residence Tuesday 
night. The search, however, did not happen overnight and reasons for that 
weren't immediately clear.

   Earlier Tuesday, U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said the 
"inviolability or immunity" of people or premises granted under the 1963 Vienna 
Convention on Consular Relations "should be waived immediately." That 
convention covers diplomatic immunity, as well as the idea that embassies and 
consulates sit on foreign soil in their host countries.

   "Given there seems to be clear evidence that Mr. Khashoggi entered the 
consulate and has never been seen since, the onus is on the Saudi authorities 
to reveal what happened to him," Bachelet said.

   Nils Melzer, the U.N. special investigator on torture, said that if Turkey 
and Saudi Arabia can't conduct "a credible and objective investigation," then 
international involvement may be needed.

   Trump's previous warnings over the case drew an angry response Sunday from 
Saudi Arabia and its state-linked media, including a suggestion that Riyadh 
could wield its oil production as a weapon. The U.S. president has been after 
King Salman and OPEC to boost production to drive down high oil prices, caused 
in part by the coming re-imposition of oil sanctions on Iran.

   Prominent U.S. newspapers have reported, citing anonymous sources, that 
Saudi officials may soon acknowledge Khashoggi's slaying at the consulate but 
blame it on a botched intelligence operation.

   That could, like Trump's softening comments, seek to give the kingdom a way 
out of the global firestorm of criticism over Khashoggi's fate.


(KA)

 
 
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