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Visas Of Saudi Officials Revokes By The USA Following The Khashoggi Killing

Khashoggi had gone to the consulate to get documents he needed to marry his fiancee, Turkish national Hatice Cengiz, who waited outside in vain for his return.

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to reporters during a news briefing at the State Department in Washington. VOA

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday that the United States had “identified at least some” of the Saudi officials involved in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and was revoking their visas.

“These penalties will not be the last word on this matter from the United States. We will continue to explore additional measures to hold those accountable,” Pompeo said. “We’re making very clear that the United States does not tolerate this kind of ruthless action to silence Mr. Khashoggi, a journalist, through violence.”

The visa revocations were the first punitive actions the U.S. has taken against Saudi Arabia since news broke of Khashoggi’s disappearance on Oct. 2.

Pompeo, who made the announcement at the State Department, did not say who or how many Saudi officials would have their visas revoked. Saudi Arabia on Saturday announced it had already arrested 18 Saudis and fired several top intelligence officials in connection with Khashoggi’s death.

The secretary also said the U.S. was considering taking action, such as imposing financial sanctions, under the Magnitsky Act. That law was named for Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who died in a Moscow prison after he reported tax fraud involving government officials; it was aimed at punishing officials responsible for his death.

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Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, Turkey. VOA

Earlier Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke for the first time about the Khashoggi case, saying the journalist was “murdered in a ferocious manner,” and contending that Saudi Arabia carried out the killing in its Istanbul consulate in a premeditated plot. He dismissed Riyadh’s claim that “rogue agents” were responsible.

“All evidence gathered shows that Jamal Khashoggi was the victim of a savage murder,” Erdogan told the Turkish parliament in Ankara. “To cover up such savagery would hurt the human conscience.”

The Turkish leader said “to blame such an incident on a handful of security and intelligence members would not satisfy us or the international community.”

Erdogan demanded that whoever ordered the killing of Khashoggi “be brought to account,” and that the 18 officials already arrested by Saudi Arabia in connection with the killing stand trial in Istanbul.

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U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters about the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey during a bill-signing ceremony at the White House in Washington. VOA

In Washington, President Donald Trump said Tuesday that Saudi authorities had staged “one of the worst cover-ups” in history with their response to the killing of Khashoggi, 59, a U.S.-based Saudi dissident.

“They had a very bad original concept. It was carried out poorly, and the cover-up was one of the worst cover-ups in the history of cover-ups,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.

When a reporter asked Trump if Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s de facto leader, should be held accountable, Trump said, “I spoke with the crown prince yesterday, and he strongly said he had nothing to do with this — it was at a lower level.”

Vice President Mike Pence said Erdogan’s assessment of the killing “underscores the determination” of the Trump administration “to find out what happened. The word from President Erdogan this morning that this brutal murder was premeditated, preplanned days in advance, flies in the face of earlier assertions that had been made by the Saudi regime.”

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Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks during a press conference in Manama, Bahrain. VOA

“The world is watching,” Pence said at an event at The Washington Post, where Khashoggi wrote opinion columns that were critical of the Saudi crown prince. “The American people want answers, and we will demand that those answers are forthcoming.”

Erdogan told Turkish lawmakers that “Saudi Arabia has taken an important step by admitting the murder. As of now, we expect of them to openly bring to light those responsible, from the highest ranked to the lowest, and to bring them to justice.” The Turkish president described Khashoggi’s death as a “murder” 15 times in his speech.

Erdogan never mentioned Salman in his speech and did not play an audio recording of the killing that news accounts have cited.

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This image taken from CCTV video obtained by the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet and made available on Oct. 9, 2018 claims to show Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. VOA

Erdogan gave new details surrounding the killing — which involved 15 Saudi agents who started arriving in Turkey on Oct. 1, the day before Khashoggi was killed — while largely confirming earlier news accounts of Khashoggi’s disappearance, including that Saudi agents deployed a body double with Khashoggi’s clothes, glasses and beard to walk out of the consulate to make it appear as if he had left the diplomatic outpost alive.

The Turkish president said that on Oct. 1, a team of Saudi consular staff scouted out two separate locations in a forest outside Istanbul and at Yalova, 90 kilometers south of the city. Turkish authorities have searched the locations, theorizing that Khashoggi’s remains might have been disposed of there, but have not found his body. Erdogan said Saudi agents removed the hard drive from the consulate’s surveillance system.

Saudi officials at first said that Khashoggi had walked out of the consulate and that they did not know his whereabouts. Then they said he died in a fistfight in the consulate. Most recently, the Saudis said Khashoggi was killed in a chokehold when he tried to leave the consulate to call for help.

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Turkish police crime scene investigators leave an underground car park, after looking for possible clues into the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, on a vehicle belonging to the Saudi Consulate found by authorities a day earlier, in Istanbul. VOA

“When the murder is so clear,” Erdogan said, “why were so many inconsistent statements made? Why is the body of a person who has officially been accepted as killed still not around?”

Khashoggi had gone to the consulate to get documents he needed to marry his fiancee, Turkish national Hatice Cengiz, who waited outside in vain for his return.

The Turkish leader stressed the need for his police and intelligence services to conduct a thorough probe, both to avoid falsely accusing anyone and to fulfill a responsibility to the international community.

Also Read: Silicon Valley Reconsiders Its Decision to Invest in Saudi Arabia

Since Saudi accounts said a “local collaborator” had disposed of Khashoggi’s remains, Erdogan said, “I am now asking: Who is this local collaborator?”

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director Gina Haspel was in Turkey to confer with Turkish officials about their investigation. (VOA)

Next Story

Kim Jong-Un And Donald Trump To Meet In late February

The White House has not confirmed the location of the next Trump-Kim summit

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President Donald Trump talks with Kim Yong Chol, left, former North Korean military intelligence chief and one of leader Kim Jong Un's closest aides, as they walk from the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, June 1, 2018. VOA

The White House has announced that a second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will be held at the end of February, at a place to be announced “at a later date.”

The announcement was made after Trump met Friday with Kim Yong Chol, North Korea’s top nuclear envoy in the Oval Office, which the White House said was to “discuss efforts to get Pyongyang to give up its nuclear program.”

Trump’s meeting with the former North Korean spymaster, who often is referred to as Kim Jong Un’s right-hand man, lasted 90 minutes.

After the meeting, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters the administration is continuing “to make progress” on this front.

“The United States is going to continue to keep pressure and sanctions on North Korea until we see full and verified denuclearization,” Sanders said, adding they have seen “good faith from the North Koreans in releasing the hostages and other moves.”

Earlier on Friday, Kim Yong Chol met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a Washington hotel. The meeting’s aim was to revive nuclear negotiations, which have been postponed for months over what U.S. officials say is Pyongyang’s refusal to meet Washington’s demand for a detailed inventory of its nuclear and missile programs.

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo escorts Kim Yong Chol, North Korea’s lead negotiator in nuclear diplomacy with the United States, into talks at a hotel in Washington, Jan. 18, 2019. VOA

The latest announcement is being met with some skepticism by analysts about whether enough progress has been achieved in the negotiations to justify a second summit.

There is a “missing ingredient,” said Scott Snyder, senior fellow for Korea Studies at the Council for Foreign Relations. “Is there some kind of understanding behind the scenes, even at the framework level, that provides a basis or justification for going forward that simply can’t be seen based on public evidence today?”

Snyder said that from Trump’s perspective, a second summit is to be expected because the first summit generated “good ratings.” He noted, however, that in order for a second summit to be successful, “the bar will be higher.”

Denuclearization

On several occasions Trump has expressed his confidence about North Korean denuclearization.

“With North Korea, we have a very good dialogue,” the president said Jan. 6, adding that it’s “very special” and that with “anybody else but me, you’d be in war right now.”

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A man looks at a TV screen showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and U.S. President Donald Trump shaking hands before their meeting in Singapore, in Tokyo, June 12, 2018. VOA

But critics point out that Pyongyang has not taken measurable steps toward disarmament since the first Trump-Kim historic summit in Singapore last June.

At the United Nations on Friday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres encouraged both countries to continue talks.

Also Read: Human Rights Situation in North Korea Needs Reforms

“We believe it’s high time to make sure the negotiations between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea start again seriously and that a road map is clearly defined for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” Guterres told reporters. “We won’t advocate for any anticipation of other measures before a clear negotiation is put in place, aiming at denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula with a road map.”

The White House has not confirmed the location of the next Trump-Kim summit, but American media reports have quoted sources as saying that Danang, Vietnam, is being discussed as one of the likely venues. (VOA)