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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 November 2018

US Secretary of State meets with Turkish leaders to discuss journalist's disappearance   

Pompeo's trip follows talks with Saudi king as western pressure mounts on Riyadh

Mike Pompeo arrives in Ankara, Turkey. Pool via AP
Mike Pompeo arrives in Ankara, Turkey. Pool via AP

US Secretary of State on Wednesday met Turkey's president and foreign minister to discuss the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Mike Pompeo held separate meetings in Ankara with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, each lasting around 40 minutes. No details about the talks were immediately released.

Mr Khashoggi, a fierce critic of his government, vanished on October 2 when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to collect documents he needed for his planned marriage.

Mr Cavusoglu said Turkey hoped to enter the Saudi consul's residence on Wednesday. Speaking from the airport in Ankara, Mevlut Cavusoglu said talks with Mr Pompeo were "beneficial and fruitful".

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Mr Pompeo's brief visit to Turkey followed talks on Tuesday with the Saudi king, crown prince and foreign minister in Riyadh. He said the Saudi leaders denied any knowledge of what took place in their Istanbul consulate and promised a serious and credible investigation. Turkish police did not search the Saudi consul's Istanbul residence on Tuesday, officers at the scene said, because Saudi officials were not able to join.

"In each of those meetings I stressed the importance of them conducting a complete investigation into the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi. They made a commitment to do that," he told reporters travelling with him after boarding the plane for Ankara.

"They said it would be a thorough, complete and transparent investigation," he said. "They indicated they understood that getting that done in a timely, rapid fashion so they could begin to answer important questions."

Earlier, President Donald Trump gave Saudi Arabia the benefit of the doubt in Mr Khashoggi's disappearance, while US lawmakers pointed the finger at the Saudi leadership and Western pressure mounted on Riyadh to provide answers.

"They made no exceptions to who they would hold accountable. They were very clear: they understand the important of this issue, they are determined to get to the bottom of it," Mr Pompeo said of King Salman and the crown prince.

Meanwhile the International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday its managing director Christine Lagarde is deferring her trip to the Middle East.

The foreign ministers from the G-7 group issued a statement saying they are very troubled by Mr Khashoggi's disappearance and those responsible must be held to account. Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the UK encouraged Turkish-Saudi collaboration.