By Amy Lieu
Published October 16, 2018
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo landed Tuesday in Saudi Arabia to meet with King Salman over the disappearance of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi, who is believed to be dead.
Pompeo landed in Riyadh and was to speak Salman over the crisis surrounding Khashoggi and his alleged slaying. Pompeo was greeted by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir.
Khashoggi vanished two weeks ago during a visit to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Pompeo is set to also visit the place where Khashoggi was last seen.
"The effort behind the scenes is focused on avoiding a diplomatic crisis between the two countries and has succeeded in finding a pathway to de-escalate tensions," said Ayham Kamel, the head of the Eurasia Group's Mideast and North African practice. "Riyadh will have to provide some explanation of the journalist's disappearance, but in a manner that distances the leadership from any claim that a decision was made at senior levels to assassinate the prominent journalist."
Turkish officials said they fear Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside the consulate. Saudis have called the allegations “baseless.”
Media reports indicate that the Kingdom may acknowledge the writer was killed in the consulate.
Meanwhile, Turkish investigators were allowed to search the consulate on Monday, according to The Washington Post. But hours before the Turkish forensic team arrived, journalists photographed a cleaning crew entering the consulate, the paper reported.
The crew hauled buckets, mops and what appeared to be bottles of cleaning solution, The Post reported. Turkish investigators said they “smelled chemicals had been used,” two officials in contact with the investigators said, according to the paper.
“They are trying to make fun of us and our willingness to cooperate,” one of the officials said.
Forensics tests like spraying luminol, a chemical mixture, can expose blood left behind, said Mechthild Prinz, an associate professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice who previously worked at the New York City's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
"It depends on how well they cleaned it up," Prinz told the AP. "Obviously, you don't want anybody to have a chance to clean it up, but very often people do miss blood."
President Donald Trump, after speaking with King Salman, had dispatched Pompeo on Monday to speak to the monarch of the world's top oil exporter over Khashoggi's disappearance.
“I am immediately sending our Secretary of State to meet with King!” Trump tweeted Monday.
Khashoggi had written critically about Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, son of King Salman, for The Washington Post. The prince is next in the line to the throne, and his rise to power prompted the writer’s self-imposed exile in the U.S.
Khashoggi has criticized Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, its recent diplomatic spat with Canada and its arrest of women's rights activists after the lifting of a driving ban for women—policies seen as initiatives of the crown prince.