Jamal Khashoggi: Trump gives Saudi benefit of doubt in Khashoggi case

US President Donald Trump has cautioned against rushing to blame Saudi Arabia over the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. He told reporters that Riyadh was being treated as “guilty until proven innocent”.

Trump also said that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman had denied knowing what happened to Khashoggi. Unnamed Turkish officials say a search of the Istanbul Saudi consulate gave more evidence that he was killed there.

The journalist, a critic of the Saudi leadership, was last seen alive entering the consulate on 2 October. Saudi Arabia has denied killing him and initially said he left the building unharmed.

However, the New York Times reports that four of the 15 people named by the Turkish authorities as suspects in Khashoggi’s disappearance have links to the crown prince, while another is a senior figure in the country’s Interior Ministry.

According to the newspaper, one of the men has been photographed accompanying the royal on recent foreign visits. The case has put Saudi Arabia under pressure from close allies. On Tuesday, G7 foreign ministers called for Saudi Arabia to conduct a “transparent” probe into the issue.

Meanwhile, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde has become the latest high-profile figure to withdraw from a major Saudi investment conference next week following Khashoggi’s disappearance.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has arrived in Turkey for talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, following a meeting with Saudi King Salman and the crown prince on Tuesday.

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