Saudi, Turkey team finds Khashoggi killing premeditated

Participants enter meeting rooms at the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh Saudi Arabia Wednesday Oct. 24 2018. Amr Nabil  AP

Saudi Arabia says the country's powerful crown prince has attended the first meeting of a committee aiming to restructure the kingdom's intelligence services after the killing of writer Jamal Khashoggi.

Turkish media have also published a security camera image allegedly showing a vehicle belonging to the Saudi Consulate "scouting" a forest in the outskirts of Istanbul before Khashoggi was killed. Saudi Arabia has suggested without offering evidence that the team went rogue.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Tuesday for the 18 suspects detained in Saudi Arabia by authorities there to be tried in Turkish courts and rejected the idea that the men acted on their own. "He called the killing "a heinous crime" that was 'really painful to all Saudis" and to all other people".

"We will prove to the world that the two governments (Saudi and Turkish) are cooperating to punish any criminal, any culprit and at the end, justice will prevail", he said to applause. "The removing Mohammed bin Salman who is consciously and continuously pursuing strategies that work against Turkey, Turkish and Turkey's allies' interests can be an ultimate goal". That means they won't be able to enter the US.

"The rift will never be there".

A member of bin Salman's entourage on foreign trips was reported to have been seen at the consulate before the Washington Post columnist's death.

The crown prince, 33, is considered the de facto ruler of the world's leading oil exporter.

After decades of Saudi Arabia buying United States weapons and enjoying Washington's protection, Grappo doubted Saudi Arabia could easily switch to another supplier such as Russian Federation or China.

"If they refuse to do so, the worldwide community should get together and impose sanctions on him personally". But there appears little prospect of dramatic change at the top.

Riyadh's energy minister said it had signed $56 billion of deals at the conference despite the partial boycott and that it expected the United States to remain a key business partner.

After the journalist disappeared, Saudi Arabia initially insisted Khashoggi had walked out of the consulate after visiting the building.

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As with much of the investigation there have been conflicting reports.

On Tuesday there were similar conflicting reports over whether Khashoggi's belongings had been found in suitcases in a Saudi diplomatic vehicle.

Significantly, President Trump yesterday broke with what had until that point been unequivocal support for Prince Mohammed, raising the possibility he could be implicated.

Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist, is missing. "He's running things and so if anybody were going to be, it would be him", Trump said.

Trump also said however the crown prince "strongly said that he had nothing to do with this, this was at a lower level". "It was carried out poorly, and the cover-up was one of the worst cover-ups in the history of cover-ups", Trump said. "And they should be in big trouble".

The State Department announced it's revoking the visas of 21 Saudi suspects in the case.

The murder has been a political gift to Erdogan.

On Capitol Hill Wednesday, a bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would stop most U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia first denied any role in Khashoggi's disappearance before blaming his October 2 death at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on a botched attempt to return him to the kingdom.

Gary Grappo, a former USA ambassador to Oman and deputy chief of mission in Riyadh, said bin Salman had solidified power to a level where he is unlikely to be removed - but that Western powers would be increasingly wary of him after Khashoggi's death.

Turkey is conducting a separate investigation into the journalist's death.

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