Saudi Arabia cannot just dismiss Khashoggi case: Erdoğan
Saudi Arabia cannot just dismiss the case of the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi by saying he “left” the consulate, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, urging the kingdom to shed light on the issue.
“As we have seen, there are different approaches in Saudi Arabia. The newspapers point at Abdulaziz Mutrib. Saudi Arabia has to shed light on this issue. It is not a case that just can be dismissed,” Erdoğan told a group of journalists on his way back from Moldova to Turkey.
The Sabah newspaper reported on Oct. 18 that a man named Mutrib was involved in the alleged murder of Khashoggi, printing photos of him outside the consulate building in Istanbul. Khashoggi was last seen entering the consulate and has not been seen since.
The U.S. is “putting serious pressure” on Saudi Arabia and has “asked for an explanation” from them, he said when asked about his meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The president said he met with a Saudi delegation, referring to the one which arrived in Turkey for a joint investigation after a phone call between Saudi King Salman and him.
Erdoğan said he told the delegation that “it was impossible to understand what the Saudi consul is trying to do.”
“He [consul general] invited a foreign news agency’s staff to the consulate and showed them electric panels and opened cupboards. He acted recklessly,” the president said, in reference to a tour conducted by Reuters staff a few days after Khashoggi went missing.
Erdoğan said he told the same to King Salman and that he said the president was right.
Turkey is serving its responsibility to reveal the truth, Erdoğan said, adding that they would not close the case unsolved.
When asked about relations with the U.S., Erdoğan said Pompeo had delayed the Manbij deal, which envisages the withdrawal of the YPG from the northwestern Syrian city of Manbij.
“The 90-day timeframe has ended. We are running over the deadline to 190 days,” Erdoğan told Pompeo, according to the president.
Recalling that U.S. and Turkish soldiers are training in the southeastern border province of Gaziantep for a joint patrol in Manbij, Erdoğan said this time “progress is possible.”
On the issue of an agreement on the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, Erdoğan said the heavy weapons of opposition groups were withdrawn from a demilitarized zone as of Oct. 15.
Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, accompanying Erdoğan on his visit, told journalists that nearly 300 tanks and armored vehicles were taken out of the zone, but there was no inventory work on them. “This activity was completed on a vast scale through several types of methods, including persuasion,” Akar said.
Asked about media reports that the U.S. would send Halkbank deputy chief Hakan Atilla to Turkey and the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) would decline a penalty on the bank, Erdoğan said, “The case of Halkbank is entirely an administrational issue. It is possible to easily resolve the issue with OFAC with an administrative decision. I am of the opinion that it will be resolved. Of course, these have nothing to do with the [pastor Andrew] Brunson case.”