WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he told President Donald Trump on Thursday that Saudi Arabia should be given a few more days to complete its investigation into the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi before the U.S. decides “how, or if” to respond.
Pompeo, who spoke with reporters on the White House driveway after briefing Trump on his talks with leaders in Saudi Arabia and Turkey, said Turkey also promised to share the results of its own investigation with the Saudis.
Pompeo said he believes those combined efforts will produce “a complete picture” of what happened to Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist living in the U.S. who had been critical of the kingdom. Khashoggi has not been seen since he entered the Saudi consult in Istanbul more than two weeks ago and is feared dead.
Turkish authorities say Khashoggi was killed. The Saudis have denied involvement.
Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced Thursday that he will not attend a previously scheduled Saudi investment conference. Many top business executives have pulled out of the conference, which Saudi Arabia had hoped to use to boost its global image.
Mnuchin said the decision was made after the White House meeting with Trump and Pompeo.
Pompeo told reporters he stressed to the Saudis that the U.S. takes “very seriously” Khashoggi’s disappearance. He said they also made clear to him that they understand “the serious nature” of the circumstances surrounding the writer’s disappearance.
He said the Saudis assured him that they will conduct a “complete, thorough investigation of all the facts.”
Executives at major companies including Ford, JP Morgan, and Uber have pulled out of a big investment conference in Saudi Arabia next week in the wake of Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance. Others, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, still plan to go. William Brangham discusses how U.S. companies are responding and what’s at stake with Andrew Ross Sorkin of the New York Times.
Speaking of his conversations in Riyadh with Saudi King Salman and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Pompeo said: “I told President Trump this morning that we ought to give them a few more days to complete that so that we, too, have a complete understanding of the facts surrounding that, at which point we can make decisions about how, or if, the United States should respond to the incident surrounding Mr. Khashoggi.”
Pompeo also discussed the case with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a stop in Istanbul.
In his brief comments to reporters, Pompeo also stressed the “longstanding strategic relationship” between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.
The Associated Press wrote this story. The PBS NewsHour produced this video