WASHINGTON • President Donald Trump declared Friday that the U.S. will uncover the truth about what happened to journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi, whose possible murder at Saudi hands after disappearing in Istanbul has captured worldwide attention. Trump promised to personally call Saudi Arabia’s King Salman soon about “the terrible situation in Turkey.”
“We’re going to find out what happened,” Trump said when questioned by reporters in Cincinnati where he was headlining a political rally.
Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government, went missing more than a week ago after entering a Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and Turkish officials have said they believe he was murdered there. U.S. officials say they are seeking answers from the Saudi government and are not yet accepting Turkish government’s conclusions.
The Saudis have called accusations that they are responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance “baseless.” Widely broadcast video shows the 59-year-old writer and Washington Post contributor entering the consulate on Tuesday of last week, but there is none showing him leaving.
Turkey and Saudi Arabia are important U.S. allies in the region.
On Thursday, Trump had said U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia were “excellent” and he was reluctant to scuttle highly lucrative U.S. weapons deals with Riyadh. A number of members of Congress have pressed the Trump administration to impose sanctions on the country in response to the Khashoggi affair.
Meanwhile, Khashoggi’s fiancee said Friday in an interview with The Associated Press that he was not nervous when he entered the Saudi consulate to obtain paperwork required for their marriage.
“He said, ‘See you later, my darling,’ and went in,” Hatice Cengiz said.
The Post reported Friday that Turkey’s government has told the U.S. it has audio and video proof Khashoggi was killed and dismembered. The AP has not been able to confirm that report.
Khashoggi, who was considered close to the Saudi royal family, had become a critic of the current government and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 33-year-old heir-apparent who has introduced reforms but has shown little tolerance for criticism.