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Turkey says whoever ordered Khashoggi killing must be held accountable

Ankara may seek a formal UN inquiry into the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, said Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu
Mevlut Cavusoglu (L) met with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington Tuesday (Reuters)

Turkey's foreign minister says whoever ordered the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi must be held accountable, amid growing pressure on Saudi Arabia's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has been widely accused of being behind the crime.

"Whoever gave the instruction should be held accountable ... Whoever committed this crime should be brought to justice," Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday after meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington.

Cavusoglu's comments come a few hours after US President Donald Trump said that all the facts in the case may never come out. In a widely criticised statement, the US president also vowed to stick by its ally, Saudi Arabia, despite the journalist's murder.

Cavusoglu said Turkey's goal remains to uncover who was behind Khashoggi's killing.

However, the Turkish foreign minister said Ankara is not entirely satisfied with the level of cooperation it is receiving from the Saudis in the investigation and it may seek a formal United Nations probe into the issue.

"The cooperation with Saudi Arabia (over Khashoggi) is not at a level where we would want it to be," Cavusoglu told reporters in Washington, adding that Turkey has shared its latest findings on Khashoggi's killing with the US.

Khashoggi, a prominent US-based Saudi journalist who was critical of bin Salman, was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October after entering the building to retrieve personal documents.

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the killing was ordered at the "highest levels" of the Saudi government, but he has not directly accused bin Salman, also known as MBS.

For its part, Saudi Arabia has denied that the crown prince had any knowledge of Khashoggi's killing or the subsequent cover-up.

In a statement on Tuesday, Trump said he intends to maintain Washington's strong ties to Saudi leaders, including the crown prince, despite the "unacceptable and horrible crime" committed against Khashoggi.

Pompeo told reporters after the meeting that he discussed a range of issues with his Turkish counterpart, including the Khashoggi crisis.

He said Washington's relations with Riyadh are "vital to America’s national security".

Pompeo backed the White House's earlier statement, saying the Trump administration's priority should be defending US interests in a "dangerous world".

"So it’s a mean, nasty world out there, the Middle East in particular," Pompeo said.

"There are important American interests, to keep the American people safe, to protect Americans ... It is the President’s obligation – indeed, the State Department’s duty, as well – to ensure that we adopt policies that further America’s national security."