Saudi rejects 'baseless' murder claims over missing journalist

Before Saturday's comments, Trump had been reluctant to criticise Saudi Arabia and had said on Thursday that he was against cancelling the $110-billion US-Saudi arms deal over the journalist's disappearance.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow declined to speculate on what Trump might do after the president promised "severe punishment" in a "60 Minutes" interview, if the us determines that Khashoggi was indeed killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Describing the disappearance as a "terrible thing", Trump said the USA would find out what happened to Khashoggi.

"We encourage joint Saudi-Turkish efforts in that regard, and expect the Saudi Government to provide a complete and detailed response. Obviously, we have a long-standing partnership with Saudi Arabia in a lot of areas".

Reports claim the writer was killed while visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, with Turkish authorities reported to have obtained audio and video recordings of the alleged murder.

According to Independent Khaled bin Farhan al-Saud, a Saudi prince living in exile in Germany told foreign media that the Saudi authorities had planned to kidnap him as well before Jamal Khashoggi disappeared.

Saudi Arabia and Turkey have given differing accounts of what happened to Khashoggi after he entered the consulate.

Khashoggi, a contributor to the Washington Post, has not been seen since he walked of the Saudi consulate on October 2. Otherwise, the United States risks losing credibility when it comes to human rights, he told CBS' Face the Nation on Sunday.

Saudi Arabia had earlier rejected all allegations levied on the nation due to Khashoggi's disappearance and also threatened to retaliate "with greater action" against any sanctions put on the nation. Saudi officials assert - without providing proof - that he left the embassy, but Turkish officials believe he may have been murdered by Saudi agents in an elaborate kill job.

Trump has praised the Saudi regime for cracking down on opponents and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has personal ties to crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The warning from the world's top oil exporter came Sunday after a turbulent day on the Saudi stock exchange, which plunged as much as 7 percent at one point.

"The recent disappearance of Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi suggests that he could be a victim of a gross violation of internationally recognized human rights", almost two dozen senators explained in their letter to the president.

Oil prices could surge to all-time highs if the USA imposes economic sanctions against Saudi Arabia, according to an opinion piece written by the general manager of Saudi Arabia-based Al Arabiya television.

"The Kingdom's economy has an influential and vital role in the global economy and that the Kingdom's economy is affected only by the impact of the global economy", it said.

Threatening to impose economic sanctions and repeating "false accusations" will not undermine the country's standing, said the statement on Saudi Arabia's official press agency, which quoted an "official source".

  • Anthony Vega