Trump says too early to assign blame in Khashoggi's apparent killing

WION Web Team Washington, DC, USA Oct 19, 2018, 06.07 AM(IST)

US President Donald Trump Photograph:( Reuters )

US President Donald Trump on Thursday expressed confidence in intelligence reports that suggest a high-level Saudi role in the suspected killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

In an interview with the New York Times, Trump said, however, it was still "a little bit early" to draw definitive conclusions about who may have been behind it.

Trump met for less than an hour with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who gave the president an update on his talks this week with Saudi and Turkish officials about the Khashoggi case amid concern that the journalist was killed in the consulate after entering it on Oct. 2.

Pompeo told reporters after his talks with Trump that he made clear to the Saudis in his visit to Riyadh that "we take this matter with respect to Mr. Khashoggi very seriously."

"They made clear to me that they too understand the serious nature of the disappearance of Mr. Khashoggi. They also assured me that they will conduct a complete, thorough investigation of all of the facts surrounding Mr. Khashoggi and that they will do so in a timely fashion," Pompeo added.

Pompeo said he told Trump that "we ought to give them a few more days to complete" their investigation in order to get a full understanding of what happened "at which point we can make decisions about how - or if - the United States should respond to the incident surrounding Mr. Khashoggi."

"I think it's important for us all to remember to, we have a long - since 1932 - a long strategic relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," Pompeo added.

Meanwhile, four prominent human rights and press freedom groups on Thursday urged Turkey to request a United Nations investigation into the possible murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi to prevent a "whitewash" of the alleged crime.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders said such a probe established by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres would shed light on the fate of the prominent journalist.

Turkish officials have said they believe Khashoggi - a US resident and Washington Post columnist who was a strong critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - was murdered at the consulate and his body chopped up and removed.