21 November, 2018
Meanwhile on Friday, US President Donald Trump, who has till now shied from directly blaming the Crown Prince, agreed with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that "any cover up of the incident should not be allowed". He says "as before, there are more questions than answers in this case, with the crime itself and who is behind it".
Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post who was critical of the crown prince, was killed after going to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to retrieve documents necessary to marry his Turkish fiancee. The global fallout over the murder has tainted the image of 33-year-old Prince Mohammed - the de facto ruler and heir apparent - despite persistent Saudi denials that he was involved. The prayers were held "in absentia" because The Washington Post columnist's remains have not been found.
Saudi Arabia's top diplomat has said the crown prince had "absolutely" nothing to do with the killing. "These individuals who targeted and brutally killed a journalist who resided and worked in the United States must face consequences for their actions", Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.
"Recent reports indicating that the USA government has made a final conclusion are inaccurate".
Saudi Arabia and its ally the United Arab Emirates intervened in the conflict against Iranian-backed Huthi rebels in 2015 in support of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi. However, no official confirmation on the same has been made by the Central Intelligence Agency itself yet. Canada, which went through its own dispute with the Gulf state earlier this year over its human rights record, cheered the White House's move.
Before his call on Air Force One, Mr Trump told reporters that when it came to the crown prince, "as of this moment we were told that he did not play a role".
Central Intelligence Agency believes Khashoggi's murder was ordered by Saudi Prince Mohammed bin-Salman
A member of the 15-man "hit squad", which allegedly killed the Saudi citizen, reportedly said in a phone call with a superior afterwards to "tell your boss" the murder mission had been completed. It said a total of 21 individuals were in custody in connection with the killing, 11 of whom have been indicted with investigations to continue into the others.
"The measures taken corroborate the fact that Saudi Arabia will remain a state of values, and justice that respects the principles of law and justice", the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said.
"I have to take a lot of things into consideration" when deciding what measures to take against the kingdom, he said. Trump considers the Saudis vital allies in his Mideast agenda.
This past week, US intelligence officials briefed members of the Senate and House intelligence committees, and the Treasury Department announced economic sanctions on 17 Saudi officials suspected of being responsible for or complicit in the killing.
The Trump administration this week sanctioned individuals for their alleged role in the killing, but the intelligence officials' conclusion bolsters efforts in Congress for a harsher US response.
Vice-President Mike Pence told reporters travelling with him at a summit of Pacific Rim nations in Papua New Guinea that he could not comment on "classified information". "It was also an affront to a free and independent press, and the United States is determined to hold all of those accountable who are responsible for that murder". The deputy chief of Saudi Arabia's intelligence, General Ahmed al-Assiri, gave the order to repatriate Khashoggi and "the head of the negotiating team" that flew to the Istanbul consulate had ordered his murder, the spokesman said.
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