Trump says 'rogue killers' may be behind Khashoggi disappearance


Saudi Arabia government pledges ‘greater action’ if US retaliates for Khashoggi disappearance

Saudi Arabia calls the allegations "baseless" and says Khashoggi left the consulate on his own, although neither Turkey nor Saudi Arabia has provided clear evidence to support its version of events.

Turkey's investigation into the disappearance of Khashoggi has reportedly revealed recordings made on his Apple Watch, which synced with his iPhone being carried outside the consulate by Khashoggi's fiancée.

Word of the Saudi plan comes as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo flies to Riyadh to meet with Saudi King Salman about the disappearance.

"The king firmly denied any knowledge of it", Mr Trump said.

"Pointing out that US President Donald Trump had expressed anger after oil reached $80 a barrel, he asked readers to imagine what it would be like if it oil jumped to "$100, or $200, or even double that figure".

Khashoggi, a USA resident and Washington Post columnist, vanished after entering the consulate to get marriage documents. Saudi Arabia has denied the claims.

Meanwhile, investors and business partners have been withdrawing or freezing their dealings with Saudi Arabia, especially the so-called "Davos in the Desert", hosted by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman on Saturday at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh, to discuss his proposed $500 billion high-tech planned city of "Neom", to be built in the Egyptian Sinai. Trump told reporters on Monday that it had sounded from the conversation with the king "like maybe these could have been rogue killers - who knows?"

Mr Trump previously warned of "severe punishment" against Saudi Arabia if Mr Khashoggi was killed in the embassy.

Turkish crime scene investigators had searched the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul over the disappearance and alleged slaying of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi.

But Saudi Arabia has strongly denied the accusations, vowing to retaliate with "greater action".

The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, said the kingdom is weighing whether to say that rogue operatives killed Khashoggi by mistake during an interrogation. "Who knows? We're going to try getting to the bottom of it very soon".

"There's something really awful and disgusting about that, if that was the case, so we're going to have to see", Trump said.

The kingdom's warning was not only a response to Trump, but also targeted at United States decision-makers amid rising calls for Congress to step in and put key arms sales on hold, he said.

"It has been 13 days since the event, so surely proving some of the evidence might be hard, but we believe we will obtain evidence", a Turkish official told Reuters.

On Sunday, a regime statement threatened to "respond with a larger action" to any sanction stemming from the case; Saudi-owned media floated such steps as cutting back oil production, buying arms from Russian Federation and holding back counterterrorism intelligence.

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