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Jamal Khashoggi: Trump gives Saudi benefit of doubt in Khashoggi case

US President Donald Trump has cautioned against rushing to blame Saudi Arabia over the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

He told the AP news agency that Riyadh was being treated as "guilty until proven innocent".

Mr Trump also said that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman had denied knowing what happened to Mr Khashoggi.

Unnamed Turkish officials say a search of the Istanbul Saudi consulate gave more evidence that he was killed there.

The journalist, a critic of the Saudi leadership, was last seen alive entering the consulate on 2 October. Saudi Arabia has denied killing him and initially said he left the building unharmed.

However, the New York Times reports that four of the 15 people named by the Turkish authorities as suspects in Mr Khashoggi's disappearance have links to the crown prince, while another is a senior figure in the country's Interior Ministry.

According to the newspaper, one of the men has been photographed accompanying the royal on recent foreign visits.

The case has put Saudi Arabia under pressure from close allies.

On Tuesday, G7 foreign ministers called for Saudi Arabia to conduct a "transparent" probe into the issue.

Meanwhile, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde has become the latest high-profile figure to withdraw from a major Saudi investment conference next week following Mr Khashoggi's disappearance.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due to visit Turkey on Wednesday, following a meeting with Saudi King Salman and the crown prince on Tuesday.

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The Saudi heir apparent wields considerable power in the kingdom and is being held responsible by many outside for whatever happened to Mr Khashoggi.

Mr Trump tweeted that Prince Mohammed had spoken to him on the phone and he "totally denied any knowledge of what took place in their Turkish Consulate".

The president said he "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 phone call coincided with a visit to Saudi Arabia by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, sent there by Mr Trump to deal with the crisis in relations.

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Culled from BBC

My view: How could anyone carry out an operation so bold and brazen in a consulate without authorization from the top, it's baffling. Crown Prince MBS should step down he has damaged his country's image, because the horrific murder of khahoggi happened under his watch. It's stomach-turning how they cut Khashoggi into pieces, for goodness sake what kind of God do they worship, it's heart breaking. And vile and disgusting Trump is comparing Khashoggi's case with Brett Kavanaugh, that the Saudi's are innocent until proven guilty, really, it happened in their consulate. The Saudis are only trying to find a way out, but the world will never believe them, thanks to Khashoggi's girlfriend, who was waiting for him outside, the evil killers would have gotten away with the heinous crime. Honestly Trump is unhinged, trying to cover up for his business partners. Trump insulted Stormy Daniels and Christine Blasey Ford his fellow citizens and yet he believes alleged murderers because of greed.

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