US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has arrived in Turkey to discuss the disappearance and alleged slaying of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi with authorities.
Mr Pompeo arrived in the Turkish capital of Ankara on Wednesday after visiting Saudi King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the day before.
Before leaving Riyadh, Mr Pompeo said the kingdom promised a “transparent investigation”.
Asked if that would include members of the royal family, he said: “They made no exceptions on who they would hold accountable”.
Sec. of State Pompeo says Saudi Arabia told him their investigation into the disappearance and alleged killing of Jamal Khashoggi won't spare anyone, including royals.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 17, 2018
Mr Khashoggi vanished on October 2 during a visit to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
Turkish officials say Saudi agents killed and dismembered the Washington Post columnist, who had written opinion pieces critical of the crown prince.
Saudi Arabia initially called the allegation “baseless,” but reportedly may acknowledge Mr Khashoggi’s slaying, perhaps as part of a botched interrogation.
The meetings come after President Donald Trump defended Saudi Arabia, criticising the mounting global condemnation of the oil-rich state.
Speaking with The Associated Press, Mr Trump compared allegations that Washington Post columnist Mr Khashoggi was murdered at Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate to allegations of sexual assault levelled against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
“Here we go again with, you know, ‘You’re guilty until proven innocent’,” The President was quoted as saying.
Mr Trump said Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman both deny any knowledge of what happened to Mr Khashoggi when he entered their country’s consulate in Turkey earlier this month.
Mr Khashoggi, a critic of the monarchy, has not been seen since.
Mr Trump said his earlier comments about “rogue killers” potentially being behind the disappearance were informed by his “feeling” of the conversation with King Salman.
The President’s comments come after a high-level Turkish official claimed police found “certain evidence” during their search of the Saudi consulate showing Mr Khashoggi was killed there.
The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak publicly about the investigation.
Saudi Arabia previously called the allegation “baseless,” but US media reports suggest the Saudis may soon acknowledge Mr Khashoggi was killed there, perhaps as part of a botched interrogation.
Mr Trump said that Prince Mohammed “told me that he has already started, and will rapidly expand, a full and complete investigation into this matter. Answers will be forthcoming shortly”.
The defence of the Saudi Royal family followed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s earlier meeting with Prince Mohammed in Riyadh.
“We are strong and old allies. We face our challenges together – the past, the day of, tomorrow,” Prince Mohammed said during the meeting.