Donald Trump: US 'very tough' in bid to find missing Jamal Khashoggi

Trump World Tower

Trump World Tower

Turkish sources have said they believe Khashoggi was killed inside the building and his body was removed, allegations that Riyadh dismisses as baseless.

Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Wednesday that he had talked "more than once" and "at the highest levels" with Saudi officials. "We have a country that's doing probably better economically than it's ever done before", Trump said. "We don't like it and we're going to get to the bottom of it", he added.

Miss Cengiz said Mr Khashoggi had visited the consulate on September 28 despite some concern that he could be in danger. He went in, and it doesn't look like he came out.

"We are extremely anxious", he said. "It's a awful thing", Trump said.

"It's a very sad situation, this is a bad situation", Trump said.

"Nobody knows what happened", he said.

Why it matters: The leaking of the images appears aimed at turning up pressure on Riyadh to reveal what happened to Khashoggi as the weeklong saga threatens to grow into a major diplomatic row between the two countries.

The Magnitsky Act gives the Trump administration 120 days to respond to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with a decision on potential sanctions against officials responsible for human rights violations.

Trump said he had talked "more than once" and "at the highest levels" to partners in Saudi Arabia, which is one of Washington's closest allies and a key market for the USA weapons industry. "Before I discuss this I'd have to find out what happened", he said.

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy has also spoken out on the Khashoggi case, saying that if reports of his murder are true, it should "represent a fundamental break in our relationship with Saudi Arabia".

Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has cultivated close ties with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and was instrumental in last year's $110 billion arms package. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) sent a letter to Trump demanding that the US impose sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act on any "foreign person responsible for such a violation related to Mr. Khashoggi".

The Senate "barely" approved the last round of arms sales, Corker said he told Prince Khalid bin Salman.

Today, Turkish television broadcaster NTV released CCTV footage of some of the Saudis going from the airport to the Movenpick Hotel, where they are believed to have stayed, and on to the consulate.

"It is like 'Pulp Fiction, '" the official said.

Kaye spoke to The Associated Press moments after he and two colleagues called for an global, independent investigation into the disappearance of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. They claimed that senior Saudi officials had approached the journalist with offers of protection - including a government job in at least one case - if he would return to his native country.

The newspaper, where Mr Khashoggi wrote columns critical of the Saudi government, said USA intelligence had intercepted communications showing Saudi officials were trying to lure the journalist back to his homeland so they could arrest him.

On Wednesday, State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said the United States "had no advance knowledge" of such a plan.

Turkish officials say they believe Khashoggi, a critic of Salman who has been living in self-imposed exile in the USA, was murdered October 2 inside the consulate when he went there to pick up documents to allow him to marry Cengiz, a Turkish national, or perhaps spirited away to Riyadh.

Bob Corker, who as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has reviewed USA intelligence on the case, said it was likely that Khashoggi was killed the day he walked into the consulate.

He further stressed that he wants to end arms exports if there's "any indication" the Saudis are "implicated in killing this journalist that was critical of them".

When I asked him why he made a decision to live in the United States, he said America was the world's most powerful country, where one could feel the political pulse of the planet. "But I don't want to rush to judgment".

Khashoggi is a prominent Saudi journalist who was living in a self-imposed exile. Twelve of them arrived early on Tuesday, based on photos captured at passport control which it published.

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