Riyadh Saturday dismissed Ankara’s calls to extradite 18 Saudis wanted for the murder of critic Jamal Khashoggi, as Washington warned the crisis risked destabilising the Middle East.
“The individuals are Saudi nationals. They’re detained in Saudi Arabia, and the investigation is in Saudi Arabia, and they will be prosecuted in Saudi Arabia,” Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told a regional defence forum in Bahrain.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has received official pledges of a six-billion-dollar loan to his country from Saudi Arabia, whose top leadership is involved in an international crisis of credibility over possible involvement in the killing of a Saudi dissident. Saudi Arabia pledged three billion dollars in foreign currency support for a year, and a further loan worth up to another three billion dollars in deferred payments for oil imports, to Pakistan, the Pakistani government announced in a statement on Tuesday.
US President Donald Trump said the Saudis had a “very bad original concept” in killing Jamal Khashoggi, the 59-year-old Saudi insider-turned-critic.
“It was carried out poorly and the cover-up was one of the worst in the history of cover-ups. It was a total fiasco. I’m saying they should have never thought about it. Once they thought about it, everything else they did was bad too … It should have never happened.”
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that there were strong signs that the killing of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was planned and that he was killed in a “savage way”. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded Saudi Arabia provide answers about where Jamal Khashoggi’s body was and who ordered the operation.
The report by Yeni Safak on Monday said Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, a member of Prince Mohammed’s entourage on trips to the United States, France and Spain this year, made the calls from the consulate. The newspaper said the four calls went to Bader al-Asaker, the head of Prince Mohammed’s office. It said another call went to the United States. That yet again adds to the pressure Saudi Arabia faces over the slaying of the Washington Post columnist.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman called the son of Jamal Khashoggi, the kingdom announced early Monday, to express condolences for the death of the journalist killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul by officials that allegedly included a member of the royal’s entourage.
“Why did these 15 people come here? Why were 18 people arrested? All of this needs to be explained in all its details,” Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.
Security forces began setting up barricades in front of the residence just hours after Consul Mohammed al-Otaibi flew out of the country on a 2 p.m. flight, state media reported. Saudi Arabia did not immediately acknowledge the consul left the country, two weeks after Jamal Khashoggidisappeared at the diplomatic post he ran. Saudi officials have called Turkish allegations that Saudi agents killed Jamal Khashoggi “baseless,” but reports in U.S. media on Tuesday suggested the Saudis may acknowledge the writer was killed at the consulate, perhaps as part of a botched interrogation.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan conceded little ground on issues dividing their countries after meeting Friday, but both leaders stressed the importance of the two NATO allies working together as they sought to improve acrimonious relations.
“With the mutual trust we have for each other, I believe the handing over of (suspects) would make our work easier,” Erdogan said, adding that their return “is important from a security point of view for the peace and welfare of our countries.”
“This is a judiciary matter. Brunson has been detained on terrorism charges … On Oct 12 there will be another hearing and we don’t know what the court will decide and politicians will have no say on the verdict,” Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said.
If found guilty, US Pastor Andrew Brunson could be jailed for up to 35 years. He denies the charges.
Russian and Syrian warplanes pounded towns in Syria’s opposition-held Idlib province on Saturday, a day after a summit of the presidents of Turkey, Iran and Russia failed to agree on a ceasefire that would forestall a Russian-backed offensive. Witnesses and rescuers said at least a dozen air strikes hit a string of villages and towns in southern Idlib and the town of Latamneh in northern Hama, where rebels are still in control.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called for a ceasefire in the rebel-held region of Idlib in northwest Syria on Friday and said an anticipated government assault on insurgents there could result in a massacre. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said Moscow opposed a truce, and Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani said Syria must regain control over all its territory.