Turkish newspaper identifies 15 Saudis allegedly involved in Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance

AFP  File | Saudi stocks have lost all of their gains for 2018

President Donald Trump says the U.S.is looking into the fate of a Saudi writer missing and feared murdered but expressed reservations over calls to withhold further USA arms sales to Saudi Arabia, warning that such a move "would be hurting us".

Khashoggi - a USA resident and one of the more outspoken critics of the regime of King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, and Turkish officials suspect he was murdered.

Turkish authorities have privately said they believe Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate, a startling allegation that is firmly denied by the Saudis.

The Washington Post reports that US intelligence intercepts outlined a Saudi plan to detain a prominent journalist and critic who disappeared a week ago.

"The Minister of Interior affirmed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's condemnation and denunciation of the false accusations circulated in some media on the Saudi government and people against the background of the disappearance of the Saudi citizen Jamal Khashoggi", an official statement had said. 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.

The kingdom did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

The Saudi journalist critical of the kingdom disappeared last week after visiting the country's consulate in Turkey. They checked into two hotels in Istanbul, the paper said.

State broadcaster TRT published video showing Khashoggi entering the Istanbul Consulate.

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With the mystery over Khashoggi unresolved after he failed to reappear after walking into the consulate on October 2, a pro-government Turkish daily said the Saudi national had recorded his own interrogation inside the mission on an Apple Watch.

Security camera footage released on Wednesday by Turkish television showed a man believed to be Khashoggi enter the consulate. Saudi Arabia may have agreed to the search in order to appease its Western allies and the global community.

While Saudi officials haven't acknowledged the pending search, it would represent an extraordinary development in a case that has Turkish officials saying they fear Mr Khashoggi was killed there.

Earlier, Saudi Arabia had quashed reports of the pressman's death. "I think we have to stand up to them and have to say that the current behaviour is unacceptable".

The US leader said on Wednesday that he had talked to the Saudi authorities "at the highest level" about Khashoggi.

The Trump administration, from the president on down, is heavily invested in the Saudi relationship. The administration's Middle East agenda heavily depends on the Saudis, including efforts to counter Iranian influence in the region, fight extremism and build support for an expected plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Trump administration, however, is heavily invested in the long-standing, USA relationship with Riyadh.

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