Erdoğan, Trump discuss Khashoggi case
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and U.S. President Donald Trump discussed how to respond to the killing last month of Saudi dissident columnist Jamal Khashoggi, a White House official said on Nov. 11.
The conversation took place during a dinner on Nov. 10 with heads of states gathered in Paris to mark the World War One Armistice centenary.
Trump expects to form a “much stronger opinion” by next week on Khashoggi’s killing and Washington’s response, he said on Nov. 7, adding that he was working with Congress, Turkey and Saudi Arabia to establish who bore responsibility.
Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, was killed on Oct. 2 after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
Once inside, he was immediately strangled and then dismembered, according to the Istanbul Prosecutor’s Office.
After announcing he was killed, Saudi Arabia has yet to reveal the location of Khashoggi’s body.
Turkish police found traces of hydrofluoric acid and other chemicals inside a well at the Saudi consul general’s home in Istanbul and think that Khashoggi’s dismembered body was dissolved in acid in one of the rooms of the residence, according to an Al Jazeera report published on Nov. 8.
Saudi Consul Mohammad al-Otaibi returned to Saudi Arabia on Oct. 16 before his residence in Istanbul was searched by police for more than eight hours on Oct. 17 and Oct. 18.
Erdoğan revealed on Nov. 10 that the recordings of the murder were shared with Saudi Arabia, the U.S., Germany, French and the U.K.
“We gave the tapes. We gave them to Saudi Arabia, to the United States, Germans, French and British, all of them. They have listened to all the conversations in them. They know,” Erdoğan said.
Erdoğan did not give details of the contents of the tapes on Saturday but two sources with knowledge of the issue have told Reuters that Turkey has several audio recordings.
They include the killing itself and conversations pre-dating the operation which Turkey subsequently uncovered, the sources said.
Erdoğan said a 15-member hit squad that arrived at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, “certainly knows” who killed Khashoggi.
“These 18 people or precisely 15 people certainly know the perpetrator and they know where the body was taken.”
He said Turkey does not have any documents or findings, but it has information.
“What is this information? I have always said since the beginning, these 15 people who came here [Turkey], with plus three, 18 people are now arrested [in Saudi Arabia],” he noted.
“There is no need to distort this. Certainly, they know among these 15 [people] who the killer or killers are, and the Saudi Arabia administration will succeed in revealing things by making the 15 speak,” he said.
“The murderers are surely among this 15 or 18, there’s no need to look elsewhere,” Erdoğan said.
On the day of Khashoggi’s disappearance, 15 other Saudis, including several officials, arrived in Istanbul on two planes and visited the consulate while he was still inside, according to Turkish police sources. All of the identified individuals have since left Turkey.