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Saudi rejects 'baseless' murder claims over missing journalist

AFP  |  Riyadh 

dismissed on Saturday accusations that Jamal was ordered murdered by a hit squad inside its consulate as "lies and baseless allegations", as and spar over the missing journalist's fate.

As the controversy intensified, reported Turkish officials had recordings made from inside the building that allegedly proved their claims was tortured and killed at the consulate.

A Saudi delegation arrived in for talks, officials said on Friday, with the case risking fragile relations between the two.

In the first Saudi ministerial reaction to the accusations about Khashoggi's killing, said that "what has been circulating about orders to kill him are lies and baseless allegations".

The Kingdom "is committed to its principles, rules and traditions and is in compliance with international laws and conventions", he added according to the

The case risks damaging the image of the kingdom and its ties to the West as Crown promotes a reform drive at home.

Big names from media and business have already cancelled appearances at a major conference in this month.

Saudi and contributor vanished on October 2 after entering the consulate to obtain documents for his upcoming marriage.

sources say police believe he was killed but denies that.

The Saudi delegation, whose composition was not immediately clear, is expected to meet with Turkish officials in at the weekend, said on Friday.

It is likely that they will take part in a joint working group on the case, whose creation was announced Thursday by Turkish following a request by

A Saudi source quoted by SPA agency said it was "a positive move" had agreed to the creation of what it described as a "joint action team" over Khashoggi's disappearance.

The Turkish leadership has so far stopped short of accusing Saudi Arabia, although have published sensational claims, including that an "assassination team" was sent to to kill Khashoggi.

In a rare public comment on the case by a Saudi official, Saudi Arabia's to Britain, Mohammed bin Nawaf al Saud, told the that Riyadh was "concerned" about its citizen.

Turkish has challenged to provide CCTV images to back up its account that Khashoggi left the consulate safely.

Khashoggi, a Saudi national living in the US since September 2017 fearing arrest, criticised some policies of and Riyadh's intervention in the war in

reported the has told US officials it has audio and video recordings which show how Khashoggi was "interrogated, tortured and then murdered" inside the consulate before his body was dismembered.

Turkish officials contacted by AFP refused to comment on the veracity of the report.

and Riyadh have been on opposing sides in the region on key issues, including the ousting of the and last year's Saudi-led blockade on Turkey's regional ally Yet as key Sunni Muslim powers they have maintained cordial relations.

But despite Riyadh's agreement on Tuesday to let Turkish authorities search the Saudi mission, the probe has not yet taken place. The two sides have been in intense contacts to resolve the issue, reported.

Pro-government Turkish newspaper said the search of the consulate had not yet happened because Saudi officials would only allow a superficial "visual" probe.

The Turkish side did not accept the offer and said officials wanted to search the building with luminol, a that allows forensic teams to discover blood traces.

Officers were looking into sound recordings sent from a smart watch that Khashoggi was wearing when he was inside the consulate to a mobile phone which he gave to his Turkish fiancee waiting outside, Hatice Cengiz.

daily reported that "arguments and shouting" could be heard on the recordings, but Sozcu newspaper said only "some conversations" could be heard.

Bloomberg, the Financial Times, The and withdrew as from the second Future Investment Initiative to be held between October 23-25 in Riyadh dubbed "in the Desert" after the in the Swiss resort.

The of ride-hailing app Uber, Dara Khosrowshahi, said that he will no longer be attending the event unless "a substantially different set of facts emerges".

British said he would suspend two directorships linked to tourism projects in Saudi Arabia over concerns about the missing

demanded the Saudi authorities reveal what happened to Khashoggi as it said Riyadh was "responsible at a minimum for enforced disappearance".

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, October 13 2018. 08:20 IST