Trump says Saudi journalist likely dead; Turkey police search forest for remains

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusogl meeting with Mike Pompeo

Modal Trigger Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusogl meeting with Mike Pompeo. AP

When asked whether he believes Khashoggi is dead, the president told reporters, "It certainly looks that way to me".

Turkish investigators have for the second time searched the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where the journalist vanished from on October 2.

The Saudi government has strongly denied having anything to do with the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi.

Asked what would be the consequences for Saudi Arabia, Trump said: "Well, it'll have to be very severe".

"Unless the miracle of all miracles happens, I would acknowledge that he's dead", Trump said to The Times. "Sooner's better than later for everyone", Pompeo said.

But he did express confidence in intelligence reports that suggest a high-level Saudi role in the suspected killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Earlier on Thursday, Pompeo said he told Trump that the USA should give the Saudis "a few more days" to complete their investigation into Khashoggi's case "so we can get a complete understanding" of the facts. And Pompeo, just back from talks with Saudi and Turkish leaders, said earlier Thursday that the USA needed more facts before deciding "how, or if" to respond.

Still, the State Department said in an email reply to ABC News that Pompeo had not heard the recording.

US President Donald Trump said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman denied having any knowledge of what happened to the Washington Post contributor.

"That's the message I transmitted to Saudi Arabia's foreign affairs minister", Freeland said in reference to the Khashoggi case. Increasingly upset USA lawmakers are condemning the Saudis and questioning the seriousness with which Trump and his top aides are taking the matter, while Trump has emphasized the billions of dollars in weapons the Saudis purchase from the United States.

Meanwhile, global pressure to punish Saudi Arabia is getting more intense by the day, with USA and German governments calling to cease exporting weapons to the kingdom, while more and more top officials and businessmen are announcing their intention not to attend next week's investors' conference in Saudi Arabia.

It said al-Otaibi can be heard on one tape saying during Khashoggi's torture: "Do this outside".

According to the reports, the assassination squad included agents tied to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a powerful figure in the Saudi royal family and lynchpin in the trend toward ever-tightening relations with the White House.

House Democratic Whip Steny H Hoyer said the reported death of Khashoggi at the hands of Saudi officials is appalling, as is the Trump Administration's failure to hold the government of Saudi Arabia accountable for its actions.

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