The Saudis are preparing a report that will acknowledge the death of Jamal Khashoggi — the Saudi journalist who went missing two weeks ago — was the result of an interrogation that went wrong inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. , two sources say.
Turkish authorities are investigating Khashoggi's disappearance, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been meeting with both Saudi royals and Turkish officials.
Here's where things stand now:
- A possible tie to the crown prince: Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, a Saudi diplomat and intelligence officer, is among the men under investigation by the Turkish authorities as part of the probe of the disappearance and suspected death of Khashoggi. Mutreb is closely connected to Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, a Saudi source told CNN.
- US-Turkey meetings: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and, separately, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, in Ankara. Each meeting lasted about 40 minutes. Pompeo did not make remarks after the meetings and has now left Turkey for Brussels.
- The Turkish investigation: Turkish investigators collected a large number of DNA samples from the Saudi consulate in Istanbul when they searched it Monday, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported Wednesday, without saying where the information came from.
- What hasn't been searched: Turkish officials have not yet searched the Saudi consul’s residence in Istanbul and it is not clear when they will. Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said Wednesday the search would happen “once a joint consensus is reached.”
There is a big question mark hanging over whether French Minster for Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire will travel to the Saudi conference dubbed "Davos in the desert" as the furor around the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi intensifies.
The summit was set up by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a bid to transform the oil-dependent economy. It is due to commence on October 23.
Le Maire will make a decision on his attendance later this week, according to the French economy ministry.
He's not the only one still mulling over attendance at the conference. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is still scheduled to attend but President Donald Trump said a final decision would be made by Friday.
Elsewhere on Wednesday, the International Monetary Fund said in a statement late Tuesday that Managing Director Christine Lagarde's trip to the Middle East for the conference next week has been "deferred."
It's an abrupt change of position from Lagarde, who said as recently as Saturday that she still planned to speak at the event in Riyadh despite being horrified by reports about Khashoggi's disappearance.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed a range of issues including Syria, Iran and counterterrorism during his meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara on Wednesday.
"The Secretary welcomed the decision to return Pastor Andrew Brunson and reiterated the United States’ willingness to assist Turkey in its investigation of the Jamal Khashoggi case," according to a statement from US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert.
"The Secretary also discussed with Foreign Minister Cavusoglu the continued wrongful detention of Dr. Serkan Golge and other U.S. citizens as well as locally employed staff from US Mission Turkey," she added.
Separately, Cavusoglu said Pompeo was in Ankara "delivering (US President) Trump's messages" but added that he also "told us about the Saudi side" having met with US officials the day before.
The search of the Saudi consul general’s residence in Istanbul will commence once a joint consensus is reached, according to Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Wednesday.
“There is an agreement, but for the search to start, there must be a joint consensus,” he said. "Once a joint consensus is reached, this step (to search the residence) will be taken," Soylu said.
"We have managed and are continuing to manage this issue transparently," he added.
A search of the residence was due to take place on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the consul general himself, Mohammed al-Otaibi, left Turkey on Tuesday, Anadolu said.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has now left Turkey after meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to address the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Wednesday.
Khashoggi vanished after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 4 where he was hoping to collect documents for his upcoming marriage. He has not been seen since.
Pompeo flew into Turkey on Wednesday morning after meeting with Saudi officials in Riyadh the day before. According to the pool of reporters traveling with the top US diplomat, the meeting with Erdogan at Ankara's Esenboga Airport lasted 40 minutes. It was followed by the meeting with Cavusoglu.
While at the terminal, Pompeo also met with the families of the three locally hired US State Department employees who were detained in a crackdown following the failed coup attempt against Erdogan in 2016.
Pompeo's next stop will be Brussels, according to the pool.
Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Wednesday that searches conducted within the Saudi consulate revealed "a large number of DNA cell samples" after the chemical luminol was sprayed and a special light was used.
Anadolu added that crime scene investigators "took samples in the consulate and consulate sewers in recent days and last night while they were searching."
The samples will be taken to the Directorate of Criminal Police Laboratory in Halkalı, according to the state-run news service.
In regard to continuing searches on Wednesday, Anadolu reported that “the underground garage and the water well used by the consular house in the past will also be scrutinized.”
Anadolu did not provide the source of the information it released.
Before getting on a plane from Saudi Arabia to Turkey, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Saudi Arabia is committed to conducting a “thorough, complete and transparent” investigation into the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
They made a commitment too, to hold anyone connected to any wrongdoing that may be found, accountable for that. Whether they are a senior officer official, they promised accountability for each of those persons, whom they determine as a result of their investigation as -- deserves accountability.
The top American diplomat refused to say whether Saudi officials told him if Khashoggi was dead or alive.
“I don’t want to talk about any of the facts. They didn’t want to either and that they want to have the opportunity to complete this investigation in a thorough way… I think that’s a reasonable thing to do to give them that opportunity and then we’ll all get to judge. We’ll all get to evaluate that work that they do,” he said.
Pompeo met with Saudi King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir in Riyadh on Tuesday after he was dispatched to the region by US President Donald Trump.
He was to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Turkish capital Ankara later on Wednesday.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has arrived in the Turkish capital of Ankara to discuss the case of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to reporters traveling with him.
President Donald Trump has defended Saudi Arabia as accusations mount over its de facto ruler's close links to the men who apparently killed a journalist in the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul.
Saudi Arabia has come under intense international pressure to explain Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance after he visited the consulate on October 2 to obtain papers that would have allowed him to marry his Turkish fiancée.
The disappearance of Khashoggi, an insider-turned-critic of the Saudi government, has prompted international outrage and calls for punitive action against Saudi Arabia.
It has also thrown Trump's close ties with the kingdom into the spotlight as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is engaged on a tough diplomatic mission to contain the crisis.
Trump suggested in an interview on Tuesday that the wave of criticism the Middle Eastern kingdom has faced over Khashoggi's disappearance is premature, comparing the case to sexual assault allegations against recently confirmed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.