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Turkey urges US to put 'its weight' behind Khashoggi murder probe

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticises CIA for not fully backing investigation
CIA has assessed it was probably Saudi crown prince who ordered killing (AFP)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged the United States on Friday to put its weight behind the investigation into the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and not to set the matter aside because of its ties with Riyadh.

"The CIA has not yet put its full weight behind this issue ... The United States needs to put its presence, its weight here," Erdogan told Turkish broadcaster A Haber in an interview. He added that Khashoggi should not be "cast aside" because of Washington's bilateral ties with the kingdom.

The CIA has assessed it was probably the Saudi crown prince who ordered the killing. Riyadh denies the prince had any involvement.

President Donald Trump has cited weapons sales to Saudi Arabia as an important source of US jobs and has stood by the crown prince. He is also reluctant to disturb the strategic relationship with Saudi Arabia.

US lawmakers have pushed for more. Republican and Democratic members of the US Senate asked the Trump administration on Thursday to tell them more about Khashoggi's death, days after a missed deadline for a detailed report on the killing prompted an angry bipartisan backlash.

On Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the US is not covering up Jamal Khashoggi's murder, only days after the White House missed the deadline to reveal its findings about who killed the Saudi journalist.

Under pressure, Pompeo insists US 'not covering up' Khashoggi murder
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Erdogan also said that Turkey was determined to take the investigation to an international court, adding that Ankara would deliver all documents and information regarding the case to the authorities who would carry out the trial.

A UN-led inquiry into Khashoggi's murder said earlier this month that evidence pointed to a brutal crime "planned and perpetrated" by Saudi officials.

Khashoggi, a Saudi government critic and prominent Washington Post columnist, was murdered by Saudi government agents inside the country's Istanbul consulate on 2 October.

After making numerous contradictory statements about Khashoggi's fate, Riyadh said he had been killed and his body dismembered when negotiations to persuade him to return to Saudi Arabia failed.