Pompeo discusses Khashoggi with Turkish leaders

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, met with Turkish President Recep Erdoğan on Wednesday to discuss the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. (State.gov photo))

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Turkish leaders Wednesday to discuss the disappearance of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Pompeo met with President Recep Erdoğan as well as Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in separate 40-minute meetings.

The meetings come one day after Pompeo arrived in Saudi Arabia to meet with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir.

The trip to the region comes at the request of President Donald Trump, who directed Pompeo to travel to Saudi Arabia Monday to help determine what happened to Khasoggi.

On Oct. 2, Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey to retrieve documents for his upcoming wedding while his fiancee waited in a car outside.

There is no evidence that he exited the building and Turkish officials have concluded that Khashoggi was likely killed once inside.

Multiple outlets have reported that Saudi Arabia could release a report concluding that Khashoggi was killed in a botched attempt to interrogate and abduct the columnist.

Trump has expressed dismay with Khashoggi’s disappearance, but has been reluctant to cast blame on Saudi Arabia, repeatedly noting that Saudi leaders have denied any knowledge of the incident in conversations with him.

In an interview with the Associated Press on Tuesday, Trump compared the suspicion surrounding Saudi Arabia to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation process.

“I think we have to find out what happened first,” Trump said. “You know, here we go again with, you know, you’re guilty until proven innocent. I don’t like that.”

Kavanaugh faced multiple allegations of sexual assault and sexually inappropriate behavior while a nominee, charges that he vehemently denied. The Senate confirmed his nomination on Oct. 6 and he was sworn in that day.

If Saudi Arabia is found to be responsible for Khashoggi’s death, Trump said that there will be consequences, but has ruled out imposing sanctions or ending arm sales to the kingdom on the grounds that doing so would hurt the U.S. economy.

In a tweet on Monday the president refuted suggestions that he has financial interests in Saudi Arabia, calling such claims “fake news.” However, during a 2015 campaign rally he said he loved Saudi Arabia and bragged about Saudis spending millions of dollars buying apartments from him.

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