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Do not want to abandon KSA in crises over missing journalist: Trump

WASHINGTON: The United States President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he does not want to walk away from Saudi Arabia despite concerns about a missing Saudi journalist.

“I do not want to do that,” Donald Trump said in an interview and reiterated his hopes that Saudi leaders were not involved in the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi.

Trump’s top diplomat Mike Pompeo meanwhile said Riyadh should be given a few more days to complete a probe into the disappearance of the veteran journalist, a prominent critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Turkish officials have said they believe Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 and his body removed. Turkish sources have told Reuters the authorities have an audio recording indicating Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate.

The Saudis have strongly denied those allegations, but U.S. media outlets have reported they will acknowledge he was killed in a botched interrogation. Trump has speculated without providing evidence that “rogue killers” could be responsible.

Pompeo met Turkey’s president and foreign minister to discuss Khashoggi’s disappearance, a day after Trump gave Saudi Arabia the benefit of the doubt while U.S. lawmakers pointed the finger at the Saudi leadership.

“They’re going to do an investigation, and when the investigation comes out we’ll evaluate it. It’s not about benefit of the doubt,” Pompeo told reporters travelling with him in Brussels, hours after his visit to Turkey.

Khashoggi vanished during a visit to the consulate on October 2 to collect marriage documents. A team of Turkish investigators entered the Saudi consul’s residence on Wednesday after delays.

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