Jamal Khashoggi Missing: Mike Pompeo Meets Saudi King as Google, Uber, Ford Turn Backs on Regime

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will discuss the fate of the missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi with Saudi King Salman. Pompeo arrived in the kingdom on Tuesday, where he will try to get answers over what happened to The Washington Post journalist who was a critic of the Saudi government as the international fallout from his disappearance worsens.

Turkish officials speaking on condition of anonymity to numerous publications, including the Post, have claimed that Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, where he was last seen on October 2.

It is alleged that a 15-strong team of men arrived in Istanbul from Saudi Arabia on the day of his disappearance, and all are connected to the incident. Khashoggi was allegedly killed after he went into the consulate to process paperwork related to his upcoming marriage to a Turkish woman.

Saudi Arabia has denied the allegations. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Bloomberg News that Khashoggi left the consulate on the same day he entered, but Saudi Arabia has provided no evidence to support that claim.

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The Qatari-funded Arabic media outlet Al-Jazeera reported that a source within the Turkish attorney general's office, speaking on condition of anonymity, said prosecutors had evidence to support the allegation that Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate.

President Donald Trump had suggested that the killing could have been carried out by "rogue killers," although he did not offer any evidence of that. Trump also said that King Salman had told him "in a very firm way that they had no knowledge of it."

Jamal Khashoggi pictured in the Bahraini capital Manama, in 2014. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet with the Saudi king to discuss the missing journalist. MOHAMMED AL-SHAIKH/AFP/Getty Images

CNN reported that its sources said the Saudis might acknowledge Khashoggi's death as the result of an unauthorized interrogation that went wrong, and that the intention was to abduct him. CNN reported that a Turkish forensics team had been granted permission to search for evidence in the consulate on Monday, according to its sources.

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The issue has strained diplomatic ties between Riyadh and the West and cast a shadow over the much vaunted reforms that the kingdom was taking under the leadership of the crown prince.

The European Union has called for a transparent investigation, and leading business figures said they would boycott an investment conference in Riyadh this month. Google, Ford, Uber and Virgin are among the companies that have dropped out of the Future Finance Initiative, which is scheduled to start on October 23.

Ayham Kamel, the head of the Eurasia Group's Mideast and North African practice, said the focus of Pompeo's visit would be to avoid a deepening diplomatic crisis.

"Riyadh will have to provide some explanation of the journalist's disappearance, but in a manner that distances the leadership from any claim that a decision was made at senior levels to assassinate the prominent journalist," Kamel told The Associated Press.

Khashoggi was a former adviser to two Saudi princes. Although he became a critic of the regime, he was never a dissident. He has criticized some Saudi policies, such as the war in Yemen, and the lack of free speech, but praised some of the crown prince's social reforms.

Jamal Khashoggi Missing: Mike Pompeo Meets Saudi King as Google, Uber, Ford Turn Backs on Regime | World