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Turkey steps up pressure over missing writer

China Daily | Updated: 2018-10-12 07:51

ISTANBUL - Turkey's president increased his pressure on Saudi Arabia over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, local media reported on Thursday, while US President Donald Trump expressed reservations over withholding arm sales over the writer.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan's comments appear aimed at slowly intensifying the criticism while balancing the need to maintain the kingdom's investments in Turkey and relations on other issues.

Trump's remarks, on the other hand, came as prominent US lawmakers increasingly criticize Riyadh - Washington's longtime security ally in the region.

Turkey steps up pressure over missing writer

Turkish officials fear Khashoggi was killed by the Saudis after walking into the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul on Oct 2, though they haven't offered any evidence to support that.

Riyadh calls the allegation "baseless", but has not offered any evidence to explain why Khashoggi simply walked out of the consulate and disappeared though his fiancee waited outside for him.

Erdogan was quoted by Turkish media on Thursday as telling journalists flying with him back home from a visit to Hungary that "we cannot remain silent to such an incident".

"How is it possible for a consulate, an embassy, not to have security camera systems? Is it possible for the Saudi Arabian consulate where the incident occurred not to have camera systems?" Erdogan said. "If a bird flew, if a mosquito appeared, these systems would catch them and (I believe) they (the Saudis) would have the most advanced of systems."

US urges answers

Meanwhile, Trump told reporters in the Oval Office that he has a call in to Khashoggi's fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, who has appealed to the president and first lady Melania Trump for help.

Trump said he had spoken with the Saudis about what he called a "bad situation", but he did not disclose details of his conversations. He also said the United States was working "very closely" with Turkey, "and I think we'll get to the bottom of it".

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said National Security Adviser John Bolton and presidential senior adviser Jared Kushner spoke on Tuesday to Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed about Khashoggi.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo then had a follow-up call with the crown prince to reiterate the US request for information and a thorough, transparent investigation.

In an interview later on Wednesday, Trump said he wanted to find out what happened to Khashoggi but appeared reluctant to consider blocking arms sales, citing economic reasons.

"I think that would be hurting us," Trump said. "We have jobs, we have a lot of things happening in this country. We have a country that's doing probably better economically than it's ever done before."

Ap - Reuters

(China Daily 10/12/2018 page11)

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