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USA intel says prince ordered Khashoggi killing

USA intel says prince ordered Khashoggi killing

M - The CIA believes Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, sources familiar with the matter said on Friday, complicating President Donald Trump's efforts to preserve ties with a key US ally.

"We regard the announcement that they made as a good first step, it's a step in the right direction", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

Turkey has said the murder was carried out by a team of Saudis who travelled to Istanbul for that objective.

Khashoggi was a Washington Post columnist living in Virginia who was critical of the Saudi government before he disappeared at the country's consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

Mr Trump refrained from blaming Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, even though the Central Intelligence Agency reportedly concluded that he ordered the October 2 assassination in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The conclusion was first reported by The Washington Post. "This was a rogue operation", Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said. "These individuals who targeted and brutally killed a journalist who resided and worked in the United States must face consequences for their actions".

"Recent reports indicating that the United States government has made a final conclusion are inaccurate".

"We will continue to explore additional measures to hold those accountable who planned, led and were connected to the murder". Ankara has already shared voice recordings linked to the murder with a number of countries including Saudi Arabia, the United States and its Western allies. "The CIA is going to be speaking to me today", Trump told reporters before leaving the White House for a visit to California.

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Yasin Aktay, an advisor to Turkey's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, said prior to the event that Khashoggi would receive a "worthy" funeral prayer now that his death had been confirmed.

That echoed remarks by national security adviser John Bolton, who said earlier this week that people who have listened to an audio recording of the killing do not think it implicates the crown prince. "The Government of Saudi Arabia must take appropriate steps to end any targeting of political dissidents or journalists".

The Arab League expressed support for the measures taken by the Kingdom.

Mr Trump has called the killing a botched operation that was carried out very poorly and has said "the cover-up was one of the worst cover-ups in the history of cover-ups".

This past week, US intelligence officials briefed members of the Senate and House intelligence committees, and the Treasury Department announced economic sanctions on 17 Saudi officials suspected of being responsible for or complicit in the killing.

Among the differences between the US and Saudi statements Thursday, Treasury's account appeared to indicate a planned killing, while the Saudi prosecutor said the decision to kill Khashoggi was made on site by a minor official, presumably one of the agents who had been sent to bring him back to Saudi Arabia.

Vice President Mike Pence told reporters travelling with him on Saturday for a summit of Pacific Rim nations in Papua, New Guinea, that the "murder of Jamal Khashoggi was an atrocity".

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