Turkish official: New evidence Saudi writer slain in consulate

Probe of Missing Saudi Journalist Brings Consulate Search, US Secretary of State Visit

Speaking to the Fox Business Network on Wednesday, Trump again cited counterterrorism cooperation with Saudi Arabia and the kingdom's contracts with USA defense contractors.

The Saudis will say the operation was carried out "without clearance" from the ruling royal family, CNN reports.

In a sign of new cooperation between Turkey and Saudi Arabia that could shed light on the disappearance, Turkish investigators wearing coveralls and gloves entered the consulate Monday.

Meanwhile, the Saudi consul-general Mohammad al-Otaibi left Istanbul for Riyadh on a scheduled flight, as Turkish investigators were poised to search his residence.

Earlier this week Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with the Turkish President over the disappearance of the Saudi Journalist.

While much of what was discussed has yet to be announced, the US State Department said that Mr Pompeo had used the time to thank the king for his "commitment to a thorough, transparent investigation" into Mr Khashoggi's disappearance.

In a statement released on Monday, Mr Khashoggi's family said: "We are sadly and anxiously following the conflicting news regarding the fate of our father after losing contact with him two weeks ago".

Saudi officials have strongly denied any involvement in his disappearance and say that he left the consulate soon after arriving.

Trump told the CBS news show 60 Minutes on Sunday that Saudi Arabia would face "severe punishment" if it is determined Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate, but Riyadh dismissed the USA threat and said it would retaliate if Trump took any action against Saudi Arabia.

A high-level Turkish official told The Associated Press that police found evidence there of Khashoggi's slaying, without elaborating.

A Turkish forensic police officer works in Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul.

"The denial was very, very strong", Trump later told reporters at the White House. Under the Vienna Convention, diplomatic posts are technically foreign soil that must be protected and respected by host countries.

US President Donald Trump lashed out at notions that he has connections to Saudi Arabia.

Told that a cleaning crew walked into the consulate before the team arrived, she said: "You saw that? Wow". Trump said he didn't "want to get into (Salman's) mind", but he added, "it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers".

Murphy and Graham were among 20 Senate Foreign Relations Committee members who support imposing sanctions against those responsible, including the highest-ranking officials in the government of Saudi Arabia.

By the time Turkish investigators gained access to the consulate Monday evening, a fresh coat of paint had been applied "everywhere" inside the building, a Turkish official told CNN Tuesday.

Turkey had wanted to search the consulate for days.

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. Certain areas of the consulate were to remain off-limits, although officials would be able to inspect surveillance cameras, Turkish media reported.

The search came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and King Salman also had their first telephone talks since the controversy erupted, in what appeared to be a conciliatory conversation according to official readouts.

Prince Mohammed has aggressively pitched the kingdom as a destination for foreign investment.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow declined to speculate on what Trump might do after the president promised "severe punishment" in a "60 Minutes" interview, if the USA determines that Khashoggi was indeed killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The case has provoked an global outcry against the world's top oil exporter, with media and business executives pulling out of an investment conference next week.

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