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TURKEY has welcomed a Saudi Arabian offer to allow its police to search the Saudi consulate in Istanbul for clues on the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Deputy chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party Numan Kurtulmas said he could not speculate as to what had happend to Mr Khashoggi, but described his loss as a “dire, grisly and scary event.”
However, the Saudis have not said when they will allow a search. A video showing a member of consulate staff opening doors and cupboards within the building and gesturing to show that they did not contain Mr Khashoggi has been widely derided on social media.
Turkish police have said their initial assessment is that the journalist, who has penned articles critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the kingdom’s brutal war on Yemen and continuing persecution of women’s rights activists, was the victim of a premeditated murder inside the consulate and that his body was subsequently removed.
They associate his disappearance with the arrival of a 15-man team from Saudi Arabia. Mr Khashoggi has not been seen since entering the consulate on October 2 to fill in paperwork for his marriage to a Turkish citizen.
Riyadh insists he left the building, but has not been able to back up its claim with any CCTV footage. Footage does exist of him entering the building.
Pressure is building on Saudi Arabia to explain what happened, with United Nations human rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani saying it would be “truly shocking” if reports of the journalist’s death were confirmed.
The UN is calling on Turkey and Saudi Arabia to co-operate on a joint investigation and made the findings public.
The two countries’ relations are frosty, with Turkey having provided economic and diplomatic backing for Qatar despite a Saudi-led boycott and also developing ties with Riyadh’s main Middle Eastern rival Iran.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Brussels was “fully aligned” with the US demand, from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, for a full investigation.
President Donald Trump has been less emphatic, saying about the case: “I don’t like hearing about it and hopefully that will sort itself out.”
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