Pompeo: Saudis committed to 'accountability' over journalist's disappearance

Pompeo: Saudis committed to 'accountability' over journalist's disappearance
© Greg Nash

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Putin orders response to US missile test The Hill's Morning Report: How will Trump be received at G-7? MORE said Tuesday he believes Saudi leadership is committed to "accountability" for officials over the disappearance of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who is believed to have been killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Pompeo issued the statement after spending the day meeting with Saudi Arabia's King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Foreign Minister al-Jubeir after President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch To ward off recession, Trump should keep his mouth and smartphone shut Trump: 'Who is our bigger enemy,' Fed chief or Chinese leader? MORE dispatched his secretary of State to Riyadh amid mounting pressure.

"My assessment from these meetings is that there is serious commitment to determine all the facts and ensure accountability, including accountability for Saudi Arabia’s senior leaders or senior officials," Pompeo said in a statement on Tuesday evening.

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He also said Saudi leadership continues to "strongly" deny any knowledge about Khashoggi's disappearance, echoing comments Trump made on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon.

Turkish authorities have claimed that Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi consulate by agents acting at the orders of the Saudi government, which Saudi officials have repeatedly denied.

Critics slammed Trump over his acceptance of denials from the Saudi king and crown prince earlier Tuesday, with Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyMurphy: Chance of deal on gun background checks bill 'less than 50-50' Murphy says White House still interested in improving background checks Hobbled NRA shows strength with Trump MORE (D-Conn.) calling the president a "PR agent" for the Saudi kingdom.

Pompeo and Trump relayed the denials from Saudi officials one day after reports indicated the Saudi government was planning to admit Khashoggi was killed, saying his death was the result of a botched interrogation.

The New York Times, citing an unnamed source familiar with Saudi leadership conversations, said Saudi authorities were planning to deflect blame away from the crown prince and place responsibility on an intelligence official

Pompeo is going to meet with Turkish leaders next, as a team of Saudi and Turkish investigators probe the consulate for evidence regarding Khashoggi's disappearance. 

Khashoggi was an opinion contributor to The Washington Post and a leading critic of the Saudi government. He was last seen walking into the Saudi consulate in Turkey on Oct. 2.

There have been reports that 15 Saudi agents entered Turkey before Khashoggi arrived at the consulate and left the country following his disappearance.

The journalist's disappearance has sparked an international diplomatic crisis, with multiple Western nations urging a credible investigation by Saudi authorities. 

Allegations that Saudi leadership was complicit in the U.S. journalist's disappearance have thrown a wrench into the close ties between the two countries, which are linked financially and diplomatically. 

Trump on Saturday said he wants to preserve a $110 billion arms deal with the Saudi kingdom, shortly after vowing to dole out a “severe punishment” if Saudi Arabia is found to be involved in Khashoggi's disappearance.