Published: Mon, October 15, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

United Kingdom must reconsider Saudi relations if state ordered Khashoggi murder, MP says

United Kingdom must reconsider Saudi relations if state ordered Khashoggi murder, MP says

Entrance to Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Turkey and Saudi Arabia are expected to conduct a joint "inspection" on Monday of the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, almost two weeks after the disappearance of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, Turkish authorities said.

The Turkish Daily Sabah newspaper reported on Saturday that a government investigation into the journalist's disappearance revealed that recordings made on his Apple Watch indicate that he was tortured and killed. Riyadh has rejected those claims.

Saudi Arabia released a strident statement over the weekend, warning that if the kingdom "receives any action, it will respond with greater action".

US President Donald Trump threatened ally Saudi Arabia on Saturday with "severe punishment" if Khashoggi, who has been critical of Prince Mohammed, was killed inside its Istanbul mission.

Khashoggi was living in self-imposed exile in the United States and had criticized Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in columns written for The Washington Post.

Trump promised to get to the bottom of what happened and said that "right now, nobody knows anything about it", though people are beginning to form ideas. Trump added the United States "would be very upset and angry if that were the case".

The controversy has troubled Saudi's traditional Western allies - who are key arms suppliers to the kingdom - and also undermined efforts by Mohammed bin Salman to present himself as a modernising ruler.

Mr Khashoggi, a Saudi national living in the USA since September 2017 fearing arrest, criticised some policies of Mohammed bin Salman and Riyadh's intervention in the war in Yemen.

He said any response to Khashoggi's killing "needs to be strong, not symbolic", including the possibility of cutting off USA weapons sales to Riyadh, or it would undermine the U.S.'s moral standing in the world. But Khashoggi's disappearance, and suspicions he may have been targeted over his criticism of the crown prince, have led several business leaders and media outlets to back out of an upcoming high-profile investment conference in Riyadh.

Meanwhile, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told ABC News on Sunday that US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is "intending to go" to the conference at the moment, but "will make up his mind as the week progresses and as new information surfaces".

A Gulf banker said the Khashoggi case, combined with other events, had become a significant factor for some potential investors in Saudi Arabia and that her bank was receiving many queries from foreign clients on how to interpret it. Saudi officials say he left shortly afterwards but Turkish officials and his fiancee, who was waiting outside, said he never came out.

A Turkish security source has said officials had audio and video evidence proving Khashoggi was murdered inside the consulate.

The source said it would be a joint search with the Saudi authorities.

Saudi Arabia insists Khashoggi left the building safely and dismissed accusations that authorities had ordered his murder by a hit squad as "lies and baseless allegations".

The Saudi leadership faces "an acute public relations crisis" over Khashoggi's disappearance, said consultancy group Eurasia. "And, maybe especially so because this man was a reporter".

British entrepreneur Richard Branson said he would suspend two directorships linked to tourism projects in Saudi Arabia over concerns about the missing journalist.

A Saudi official source quoted by SPA news agency said it was "a positive move" Turkey had agreed to the creation of what it described as a "joint action team" over Mr Khashoggi's disappearance.

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