Trump talks to Saudi king, dispatches Pompeo

Spanish minister seeks inquiry into missing Saudi journalist

He has put forth the Saudi media's narrative of "rogue killers" as a possible scenario.

Saudi officials have strongly denied any involvement in his disappearance and say that he left the consulate soon after arriving. The report was attributed to two unnamed sources.

The New York Times, CNN, CNBC have also announced they would not sponsor the event, and several prominent journalists have said they would not attend.

If the Saudis were concerned about the optics of a well-prepared cleaning crew arriving on the scene of an alleged murder just moments before the start of an investigation that is being closely watched by the global community, they did not show it-the crew walked in the front entrance of the consulate in full view of Reuters and Associated Press cameras and journalists.

King Salman emphasised the importance of the Turkey-Saudi relationship and said no-one should be able to "undermine the strength of this relationship", Saudi's official media reported. However, it remained unclear what evidence, if any, would remain after almost two weeks since Khashoggi's disappearance.

Turkish officials say they fear a Saudi hit team killed Mr Khashoggi, who has been missing for almost two weeks.

Earlier on Monday, Donald Trump announced that his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, was heading to Riyadh to meet King Salman over the matter.

Trump also said King Salman denied "any knowledge of whatever may have happened" to Khashoggi and told him the Saudis are working closely with Turkey on the case.

"It sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers".

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and US resident, has not been seen since entering the consulate on October 2 to obtain documents for his forthcoming marriage.

Following days of mounting tensions, Saudi officials were allowing Turkish investigators to enter the consulate on Monday. The kingdom has called such allegations "baseless" but has not offered any evidence Khashoggi ever left the consulate. Germany, Britain and France issued a joint statement over the weekend expressing "grave concern" and calling for a credible investigation to ensure those responsible for the disappearance "are held to account".

"We haven't made a decision about going yet", the President told reporters during a visit to Georgia.

Prince Mohammed, 33, a son of King Salman, consolidated his control in June 2017 when he was named Crown Prince to replace his cousin, Mohammed Nayef, who was sacked. The Saudi government, it said, would shield the prince by blaming an intelligence official for the bungled operation.

In Washington, Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, is coming under pressure after having spearheaded the administration's strategy to forge close ties with Mohammed.

The case has caused friction between Saudi Arabia and Turkey, which repeatedly accused the Saudis of failing to cooperate with their investigation.

Speaking to reporters in the White House this morning, Trump said King Salman's denial "could not have been stronger". USA intelligence officials have reported they are certain the interference took place in an effort to hurt Hillary Clinton's campaign.

Trump promised "severe punishment" for whoever was to blame in a "60 Minutes" interview that aired Sunday.



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