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Date TimeOctober 16, 2018
VoiceTurkish president reveals details of inquiries into Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance as consul general’s home is searched
Erdoğan: toxic materials and evidence of repainting found in Saudi consulate
Some areas have been repainted at the Saudi consulate where missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was last seen alive, the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has said, as investigators prepared to enter the nearby Saudi consul’s house after the diplomat left the country.
Erdoğan told reporters on Tuesday that police had found evidence of toxic materials and signs that some surfaces had been repainted at the consulate where investigators say the missing journalist was killed.
“My hope is that we can reach conclusions that will give us a reasonable opinion as soon as possible, because the investigation is looking into many things such as toxic materials and those materials being removed by painting them over,” he said.
As police vans pulled up outside the consul general’s residence, the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, met for crisis talks in Riyadh with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, and his father, King Salman.
At their afternoon meeting at the Royal Palace, Pompeo and the crown prince exchanged smiles and pleasantries about whether the secretary of state was feeling jetlag. Before reporters were ushered out, the prince said: “We are strong and old allies. We face our challenges together.”
“Absolutely,” Pompeo replied.
The meeting lasted half an hour but Pompeo and the prince were expected to have a more prolonged session of talks over dinner.
The state department did not give an account of the discussions at the meeting but Donald Trump said on Twitter that he talked to the crown prince during the meeting and said Bin Salman had “totally denied any knowledge of what took place in their Turkish Consulate… and told me that he has already started, and will rapidly expand, a full and complete investigation into this matter”.
“Answers will be forthcoming shortly,” Trump tweeted.
Saudi cooperation is critical to three Trump foreign policy goals: isolating Iran, defeating Islamic State, and being able to claim Arab support for a planned Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.
While US media had been reporting that the Saudis were poised to acknowledge that the missing journalist had died as part of a botched rendition attempt, Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, said on Tuesday that Riyadh had not offered any explanation to Turkey regarding Khashoggi’s disappearance.
Pompeo will meet Çavuşoğlu on Wednesday in Turkey, where a joint Turkish-Saudi investigation is under way.
Last week, Trump threatened “severe punishment” if it emerged that Khashoggi had been assassinated.
However, the US president said on Monday, without offering evidence, that Khashoggi could have been murdered by “rogue killers”, prompting speculation that the White House may be willing to protect the House of Saud, a key political and trade ally, from blame for the diplomatic crisis.
But Senator Lindsey Graham, an influential Republican ally of Trump, described the crown prince, known by his initials as MBS, as “toxic” and accused him of ordering Khashoggi’s death.
“Nothing happens in Saudi Arabia without MBS knowing it,” he told Fox News, warning that Congress would “sanction the hell out of Saudi Arabia” over Khashoggi’s disappearance.
Turkish officials continued to leak to news outlets on Tuesday that police found evidence in the nearby consulate building during Monday’s search that proved Khashoggi was killed there. Turkish sources allege the body was then transported to the consul general’s house nearby and disposed of.
Of particular interest to the forensics team in the new search is the garden, where it is believed the journalist’s remains could have been buried, and a garage under the house, where cars with diplomatic plates spent several hours after driving from the consulate building on the day he vanished. At least four diplomatic vehicles are included in the investigation.
Erdoğan: toxic materials and evidence of repainting found in Saudi consulate
Mohammad al-Otaibi, the consul general, has not been seen in public since the scandal erupted. Turkish television and semi-official Anadolu news agency said on Tuesday evening that he left Turkey on a commercial flight hours before his residence was expected to be searched.
Khashoggi, a prominent critic of the crown prince, relocated from Saudi Arabia to the US last year, where he wrote for the Washington Post. He visited the Saudi consulate building in Istanbul on 2 October for an appointment to pick up documents for his forthcoming marriage and has not been seen since.
Turkish officials allege they have video and audio evidence that proves Khashoggi was interrogated, tortured and murdered by a 15-man hit squad sent from Riyadh. Saudi Arabia says the claims are false, although it has offered no alternative version of events.

Turkish investigators were allowed access to the diplomatic building for the first time on Monday afternoon, shortly after cleaners with disinfectant, mops and buckets were seen entering the building’s main door.
Although it is unclear what evidence could be extracted two weeks after Khashoggi vanished, forensic vehicles took away soil samples after a nine-hour search as well as a metal door from the garden. A second swoop of the premises is planned for Tuesday.
Ankara has wanted to search the consulate and residence for days but, under the Vienna convention, diplomatic posts are technically foreign soil that must be protected and respected by host countries.

Khashoggi wrote extensively for the Washington Post about Saudi Arabia, criticising its war in Yemen, the recent diplomatic spat with Canada and its arrest of women’s rights activists after the lifting of Saudi Arabia’s driving ban for women. Those policies are viewed as initiatives of Bin Salman, who is next in line to the throne.
Khashoggi’s family, who said they have been left to “sadly and anxiously follow the conflicting news”, called on Monday for an independent investigation into his disappearance.
“The strong moral and legal responsibility which our father instilled in us obliges us to call for the establishment of an independent and impartial international commission to inquire into the circumstances of his death,” the statement read.
The call was echoed on Tuesday by the UN high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, who urged Ankara and Riyadh to waive diplomatic immunity in the case and “reveal everything they know about the disappearance and possible extrajudicial killing” of Khashoggi.

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