Donald Trump says 'rogue killers' may have murdered Jamal Khashoggi

Donald Trump says 'rogue killers' may have murdered Jamal Khashoggi

Before disappearing, the prominent Saudi writer had been living in self-imposed exile in Washington, fearing retribution for his critical views on the kingdom's policies.

Ford Motor Co Chairman Bill Ford also pulled out, as well as media organisations like CNN and Bloomberg which once served as sponsors of the conference. He too had been scheduled to speak. Saudi officials say Khashoggi left the building unharmed.

"As of this moment they deny it, and they deny it vehemently".

Trump promised "severe punishment" if it turns out that Saudi Arabia is behind Khashoggi's disappearance.

"We hope this joint investigation will help in removing all speculations", Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali said replying to a question on Monday at a briefing ahead of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Saudi visit from Tuesday.

But, he adds, that "cannot supersede our commitment to human rights".

But the president has also said "we would be punishing ourselves" by canceling arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

In the US, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Saudi Arabia should take Trump's warning over the journalist's fate seriously.

As of Friday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin was still planning to attend the conference.

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Kudlow tells ABC's "This Week" that Mnuchin "will make up his mind as the week progresses and as new information surfaces" and the investigation proceeds.

Turkish police on Monday (Oct 15) searched the Saudi consulate in Istanbul for the first time since journalist Jamal Khashoggi went missing, as US President Donald Trump floated the idea that "rogue killers" could be to blame for his disappearance.

Khashoggi, a familiar face on Arab talk shows, moved to the United States past year fearing retribution for his criticism of Prince Mohammed, who has cracked down on dissent with arrests. "He (Trump) will take action". But then, if they cared about such realities, the US would have cut off support to the Saudi war in Yemen years ago.

Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist, disappeared after entering the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

Khashoggi entered the consulate to collect some papers before his forthcoming marriage with his fiancée waiting outside. But Khashoggi's disappearance has led several business leaders and media outlets to back out of the upcoming investment conference in Riyadh called the Future Investment Initiative. "So I think they're getting ahead of themselves at this point", said Heather Nauert, the State Department's spokesperson.

The crown prince, ambitious, aggressive and just 33 in a kingdom long ruled by aging monarchs, has considerable weight in Saudi government actions.

"The kingdom affirms its total rejection of any threats and attempts to undermine it, whether by threatening to impose economic sanctions, using political pressures or repeating false accusations", the statement said.

Trump called his top diplomat on Sunday night and asked him to have face-to-face meetings with the Saudi leaders, according to State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.

Turkish officials allege he was murdered. On Monday, Riyadh's Tadawul exchange closed up 4 per cent.

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