Turkey urges U.S. to put its weight behind Khashoggi investigation

Turkey urges U.S. to put its weight behind Khashoggi investigation
FILE PHOTO: A demonstrator holds a poster with a picture of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi outside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, Turkey October 25, 2018. REUTERS/Osman Orsal -
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ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan urged the United States on Friday to put its weight behind the investigation into the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and not to set the matter aside because of its ties with Riyadh.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by a team of Saudi operatives on Oct. 2, provoking international revulsion.

"The CIA has not yet put its full weight behind this issue ... The United States needs to put its presence, its weight here," Erdogan told broadcaster A Haber in an interview. He added that Khashoggi should not be "cast aside" due to Washington's bilateral ties with the kingdom.

The CIA has assessed it was likely the crown prince ordered the killing. Riyadh denies the prince had any involvement.

President Donald Trump has cited weapons sales to Saudi Arabia as an important source of U.S. jobs and has stood by the crown prince. He is also reluctant to disturb the strategic relationship with Saudi Arabia.

U.S. lawmakers have pushed for more. Republican and Democratic members of the U.S. Senate asked the Trump administration on Thursday to tell them more about Khashoggi's death, days after a missed deadline for a detailed report on the killing prompted an angry bipartisan backlash.

Erdogan also said that Turkey was determined to take the investigation to an international court, adding that Ankara would deliver all documents and information regarding the case to the authorities that would carry out the trial.

A U.N.-led inquiry into Khashoggi's murder said earlier this month that evidence pointed to a brutal crime "planned and perpetrated" by Saudi officials.

After making numerous contradictory statements about Khashoggi's fate, Riyadh said he had been killed and his body dismembered when negotiations to persuade him to return to Saudi Arabia failed.

(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Alison Williams and Frances Kerry)

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