Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Saudi Arabia’s leadership on Tuesday and said he stressed the need for a comprehensive investigation into the disappearance of activist Jamal Khashoggi.
Pompeo met with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, who “strongly denied any knowledge of what took place in their consulate in Istanbul,” according to a news release issued by the State Department.
Khashoggi vanished two weeks ago during a visit to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials said they fear Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside the consulate.
The Saudis have called the allegations “baseless," but multiple media outlets reported Monday that the Saudi government may blame rogue intelligence operatives for Khashoggi's death, claiming that he was mistakenly killed inside the kingdom's consulate during an interrogation that went wrong.
Khashoggi had written critically about 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.
During Tuesday’s meeting, held at the directive of President Trump, “we had direct and candid conversations,” Pompeo said in the news release.
“I emphasized the importance of conducting a thorough, transparent, and timely investigation, and the Saudi leadership pledged to deliver precisely on that,” Pompeo said.
The Crown Prince vowed that “a serious and credible investigation” was currently in progress, Pompeo said, reiterating earlier comments on Twitter from Trump.
“My assessment from these meetings is that there is serious commitment to determine all the facts and ensure accountability, including accountability for Saudi Arabia’s senior leaders or senior officials,” Pompeo said.
Earlier Tuesday, Trump tweeted that the crown prince had “totally denied any knowledge of what took place in their Turkish Consulate” and that an investigation into the matter was ongoing.
Pompeo was scheduled to visit Ankara, Turkey on Wednesday to meet with country officials about the case, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.
The president also commented about the ongoing matter during an interview with Fox Business’ Trish Regan..
“Turkey’s looking at it very strongly. We're all looking at it together but Turkey and Saudi Arabia are looking at it very strongly and it depends whether or not the king or the crown prince knew about it, in my opinion,” Trump said. “If they knew about it, that would be bad.”
Fox Business’ Trish Regan and Fox News’ Jason Donner, Alex Pappas and Samuel Chamberlain contributed to this report.