Turkish police broaden Khashoggi probe as Pompeo meets Saudi king

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sits with Saudi Arabia's King Salman.Pool via AP: Leah Millis

America's top diplomat has met with Saudi Arabia's King Salman and his son crown prince Mohammed bin Salman over the disappearance and alleged killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul.

Key points: Mike Pompeo's visit came as Turkish investigators entered the consulate for the first time to conduct a search A Turkish official reportedly said police found evidence of the missing journalist's slaying The case has provoked an international outcry against the world's top oil exporter

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo smiled and shook hands with both men, who warmly greeted him just hours after a Turkish forensics team finished a search inside the Saudi consulate, looking for evidence of the Washington Post columnist's alleged killing and dismemberment.

A high-level Turkish official told AP that police found evidence there of Khashoggi's slaying, without elaborating. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as the investigation was ongoing.

Khashoggi, a US resident and leading critic of the Saudi crown prince, vanished after entering the consulate on October 2.

Turkish officials say they believe he was murdered there and his body removed, which the Saudis strongly deny.

Photo Khashoggi moved to Washington last year fearing retribution for his criticism of the Saudi royals.

headshot of Jamal Khashoggi wearing a white head covering and glasses, mid-speech.AP: Hasan Jamali, file

President Donald Trump, who dispatched Mr Pompeo to Riyadh amid strained ties with the key ally, has speculated that "rogue killers" may be responsible, after speaking with King Salman.

Mr Pompeo's arrival came as Turkish crime scene investigators entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the last place Mr Khashoggi was seen before vanishing.

It was the first time investigators have been granted access to the consulate, and they searched the premises for over nine hours, Reuters witnesses said.

Video 0:23 Trump says "rogue killers" could have been responsible for Khashoggi's disappearance

Trump says ABC News

A Turkish foreign ministry source said the police would search the consulate again on Tuesday as well as the consul's residence, which Turkish television has previously reported could be linked to Khashoggi's disappearance.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, speaking to reporters in parliament, raised the possibility that parts of the consulate had been repainted.

"The investigation is looking into many things such as toxic materials and those materials being removed by painting them over," he said.

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

HSBC chief John Flint backed out on Tuesday, as did the chief executives of Standard Chartered and Credit Suisse.

Photo Turkish police officers arrive at Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul.

Turkish forensic investigators arrive to enter the Saudi Arabia's Consulate in Istanbul.AP: Emrah Gurel

During the initial consulate search, CNN reported on Monday that Saudi Arabia was preparing to acknowledge Khashoggi's death in a botched interrogation, after denying for two weeks any role in his disappearance.

The New York Times, citing a person familiar with the Saudi plans, reported the crown prince had approved an interrogation or abduction of Khashoggi.

It said the Saudi Government, which could not be reached immediately for comment on the reports, would shield the prince by blaming an intelligence official for the bungled operation.

Consul's residence to be searched next

Photo Police will carry out a second search at the Saudi Arabian consul's residence in Istanbul.

A man walks past the Saudi Arabia consul's residence in Istanbul. It is a big white building with a tall gate.AP: Petros Giannakouris

The Turkish inspection team included a prosecutor, a deputy prosecutor, anti-terror police and forensic experts, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

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

Where is Jamal Khashoggi?
He walked into a consulate building, but never came out. Now, the investigation into the whereabouts of Jamal Khashoggi has been clouded by diplomatic immunity and a potential murder scene that is off-limits to local authorities.

Forensic vehicles leaving the Saudi consulate in Istanbul took away soil samples as well as a metal door from the garden, a witness told Reuters. A police dog was part of the search team.

"Investigators carried out searches in the consulate and took the things deemed necessary," a senior Turkish official said.

Police are now planning a second search at the Saudi consul's home in Istanbul, where leaked surveillance footage show diplomatic cars travelled to shortly after Khashoggi's disappearance.

The UN human rights chief on Tuesday said immunity on diplomatic premises and officials should be lifted for the Khashoggi investigation.

Video 0:42 Turkish officials say they fear a Saudi assassination team killed Khashoggi.

CCTV vision claims to show Jamal Khashoggi entering the Saudi consulate.ABC News

Mr Trump has threatened "severe punishment" if it turns out Khashoggi was killed in the consulate, but ruled out cancelling arms deals worth tens of billions of dollars. European allies have urged accountability for those responsible.

Many members of the US Congress, which has long had a testy relationship with Saudi Arabia, have issued strong criticism of the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia has said it would retaliate against any pressure or economic sanctions "with greater action", and Arab allies rallied to support it.

Khashoggi, a familiar face on Arab talk shows, moved to Washington last year fearing retribution for his criticism of Prince Mohammed, who has cracked down on dissent with arrests.


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