Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have discussed the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi as pressure builds up on Riyadh to come clean about the fate of the prominent journalist.
Khashoggi has been missing since he stepped inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, with Turkish officials saying they believe he has been killed.
Erdogan has behaved cautiously in the controversy, expressing concern but stopping short of directly accusing Riyadh.
King Salman phoned Erdogan Sunday evening “to thank the president for welcoming the kingdom’s proposal to form a joint working group” to discuss the disappearance, the Saudi foreign ministry said.
Few details have emerged over how the joint working group will function, sparking suspicion that Saudi Arabia might be trying to coax Turkey with certain concessions at a time of the latter’s economic problems.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Saudi Arabia had not cooperated in the investigation, despite proposing to create the joint working group with Turkish authorities.
Turkish officials have reportedly shared with Washington contents of video and audio recordings that allegedly contain evidence supporting claims that Khashoggi was murdered by the Saudi government.
President Donald Trump initially made it clear that whatever the outcome of the inquiry into the disappearance of Khashoggi, the US would not forgo billions of dollars in arms deals with Saudi Arabia.
However, he told CBS News on Saturday that the US was investigating the case which he called “really terrible and disgusting” and that “there will be severe punishment”. His remarks prompted Saudi Arabia to threaten to use its economic muscle to respond to any punitive measure but Rai al-Youm, a pan-Arab newspaper based in London, said the kingdom might have to ready itself for new “milking” by the US.