US defence chief: killing of writer is threat to stability

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets relatives of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a handout

Gruesome reports have alleged that Mr Khashoggi was murdered and his body dismembered by a team sent from Saudi Arabia to silence the columnist, who had criticised Prince Mohammed.

Khashoggi's killing has tainted the image of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has positioned himself as a Saudi reformer, and tested ties between Washington and Riyadh as Western powers demand answers over his death.

Saudi Arabia has detained 18 people and dismissed five senior government officials as part of the investigation into Khashoggi's murder.

After three weeks of shifting Saudi accounts around the incident, the kingdom this week acknowledged that the killing was "premeditated", citing evidence from investigating Turkish officials.

Salah Khashoggi arrived in Washington Thursday, according to sources close to the family, just after he and other members of the Khashoggi family met with King Salman and Crown Prince bin Salman, who offered them their condolences, at the Yamama Palace in Riyadh Tuesday.

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He continued that the failure of any nation to adhere to global norms and the rule of law undermines regional stability at a time when it is needed the most, falling short of taking aim at the Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman.

On Thursday, CIA Director Gina Haspel briefed Trump about her recent trip to Turkey, where she listened to purported audio of Khashoggi's killing.

"We need to clarify the background of this awful crime and until that, we will not supply weapons to Saudi Arabia", she added, reiterating comments made earlier this week.

After the journalist disappeared, Saudi Arabia initially insisted Khashoggi had walked out of the consulate after visiting the building.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this week announced moves against 21 Saudis to either revoke their visas or make them ineligible for US visas after the Khashoggi killing.

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Mr Khashoggi, a journalist for the Washington Post and critic of the Saudi regime, went into the Istanbul consulate on October 2 to obtain paperwork proving that he had divorced his previous wife so he could marry again.

And he made clear that the US commitment to the region outpaces any presence by Russian Federation, which he said lacks essential moral principles.

"Unfortunately, there has been this hysteria in the media about Saudi Arabia's guilt before the investigation is completed", he said.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said those behind the killing must be held accountable.

Saudi Arabia has sought to draw a line under the crisis with the investigation, but a string of gruesome details about the murder have continued to appear in the Turkish media.

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Al-Mojeb's office said last Friday that Saudi officials were responsible for the death of Khashoggi, who they said died in a fistfight - later saying it was from a chokehold after he raised his voice in the consulate.

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