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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Pompeo: no intelligence directly links Saudi prince to Khashoggi killing

The US Secretary of State tells it is an 'accurate statement' after going through the evidence

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to the media in Buenos Aires. Reuters
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to the media in Buenos Aires. Reuters

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Saturday he has seen all the intelligence possessed by the United States on the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and repeated that no direct evidence links Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the incident.

"I have read every piece of intelligence that is in the possession of United States government," Pompeo said in an interview with CNN in Buenos Aires on the G20 summit sidelines.

"When it is done, when you complete that analysis, there's no direct evidence linking him to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. That is an accurate statement, an important statement and it is a statement that we are making publicly today," he said.

Asked if the Central Intelligence Agency had concluded with "high confidence" that Prince Mohammed was involved, Pompeo said: "I can't comment on intelligence matters, CIA conclusions."

The CIA assessed that the crown prince ordered the October 2 killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul of the Washington Post columnist Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi royal.

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Pompeo said the United States was working with Saudi Arabia in Afghanistan and against Iran, and that Riyadh was "an enormous support" for Washington. "They're a relationship that has mattered for 70 years across Republican and Democrat administrations like ... We're aiming to keep that relationship," he said.

On the sidelines of G20, Mr Trump met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has sought to keep international pressure on Saudi Arabia over the slaying in October. Mr Trump reiterated that there is no definitive evidence that Prince Mohammed is complicit in the killing. He said the kingdom is an important ally that has helped keep oil prices low.

Prince Mohammed, who is attending his first major international event since the murder of Mr Khashoggi, met United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Saturday. Following the meeting, Prince Mohammed told Saudi TV that the two leaders had reviewed aspects of partnership between Saudi Arabia and United Nations.

The prince also met on Saturday with Italy's prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, and reviewed bilateral relations, the Saudi news agency SPA said.

Mr Erdogan demanded on Saturday that Saudi Arabia extradite suspects in the killing in Istanbul, saying a trial in the kingdom was not satisfactory.

Addressing reporters at the Group of 20 summit, the Turkish president said that Prince Mohammed had given an "unbelievable explanation" of Riyadh's role in the case.

Mr Erdogan said that Turkey had no intention of harming the Saudi royal family, adding that holding those responsible for Mr Khashoggi's killing would also be beneficial for Saudi Arabia.