Mike Pompeo: Saudis need more time to complete probe of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told President Trump Thursday that the U.S. should give Saudi Arabia “a few more days” to complete an investigation into the suspected murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Emerging from a meeting with Mr. Trump at the White House, Mr. Pompeo said the Saudis’ report on the journalist’s disappearance in Turkey “will be transparent for everyone to see.”
“I told President Trump this morning we ought to give them a few more days to complete that so we, too, have complete understanding of the facts surrounding that, at which point we can make decisions about how, or if, the United States should respond to the incident,” Mr. Pompeo said.
Mr. Pompeo had just returned to the U.S. after an urgent fact-finding mission to Saudi Arabia and Turkey, where he conferred with government officials about the disappearance of the journalist, a legal U.S. resident who wrote for The Washington Post.
“We made clear to them that we take this matter with respect to Mr. Khashoggi very seriously,” Mr. Pompeo said of the Saudis. “They made clear to me that they too understand the serious nature of the disappearance of Mr. Khashoggi.
“They also assured me they will conduct a complete, thorough investigation of all of the facts surrounding Mr. Khashoggi and they will do so in a timely fashion,” Mr. Pompeo added.
Mr. Khashoggi hasn’t been seen since he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, two weeks ago. Audio recordings of his meeting reportedly captured sounds of him being beaten and tortured, and of a bone saw being used presumably to dismember his body.
Mr. Pompeo said it’s important for the U.S. to keep in mind the “long strategic relationship with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia” that dates back to 1932.
“They continue to be an important counterterrorism partner, they have custody of the two holy sites [of Islam],” he said. “They’re an important strategic alliance of the United States and we need to be mindful of that.”
He said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told him that Turkey is conducting its own investigation. Mr. Pompeo, a former CIA director, met with some of those investigators.
“He assured me that they would share their results with the Saudis as well,” Mr. Pompeo said. “So we do believe that between these two efforts, a complete picture will emerge.”
He said when U.S. officials receive the reports, they’ll be able to determine whether the Saudis’ conclusions are “accurate.”