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Pompeo did not discuss Khashoggi murder with Saudi king, US official says

Pompeo, right, is discussing Iran and maritime security with Gulf Arab allies during a trip to the region (Reuters)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did not discuss the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi when he met with Saudi Arabia's king on Monday, a senior State Department official has told journalists travelling with him in the region.

"It did not" come up, said the official who could not confirm if the case had been raised with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom Pompeo met later.

Pompeo is discussing Iran and maritime security with Gulf Arab allies during his trip after US President Donald Trump called off a military strike to retaliate for Tehran's downing of a US drone early on Thursday.

The official's wording echoes Trump's statement on Sunday that he did not discuss the death of Khashoggi during a phone call on Friday with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

"I did not because it really didn't come up in that discussion," Trump said on NBC's Meet the Press programme.

The White House said on Friday that the president's phone call focused on tensions with Tehran and oil.

Khashoggi, who wrote for Middle East Eye and the Washington Post, was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October by a Saudi hit squad.

The murder sparked worldwide condemnation of Riyadh, and a CIA report found that bin Salman was almost certainly responsible for signing off on the operation.

Scathing UN report

A United Nations report published last week urged Washington to determine what responsibility the crown prince bears in the murder of Khashoggi, renewing pressure on Trump to hold his allies in Riyadh accountable.

In a scathing document that called the assassination a "deliberate, premeditated execution," UN special rapporteur Agnes Callamard called on the Trump administration to comply with the Global Magnitsky Act, a US human rights law that the US president has ignored.

Evidence suggests Saudi crown prince liable for Khashoggi murder: UN report
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The law, which was triggered by US lawmakers last year, directed the White House to produce a report about bin Salman's possible involvement in the crime. But the administration missed the February deadline to submit its findings.

In her report, released on Wednesday, Callamard also said that the FBI should open its own investigation into the assassination if it has not already.

She also called for the US to release any relevant information it may possess about the murder.

The Trump administration says it is pressing the Saudis to show progress toward holding to account those behind the killing.