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Turkey, US press Riyadh to explain fate of missing journalist

AFP  |  Istanbul 

and the on Thursday ratcheted up the pressure on to explain how a vanished after entering its consulate last week, with Recep Erdogan urging the release of CCTV footage from the mission.

The Post, which Khashoggi wrote for, added to the still unresolved mystery by reporting Saudi Crown had ordered an operation to "lure" the critical back home.

Khashoggi, a Saudi national whose articles have criticised the prince, has not been seen since October 2 when he went to the consulate in to obtain official documents for his upcoming marriage.

Turkish officials have said he was killed -- reportedly by a 15-man "assassination team" that arrived on two planes -- but denies that.

The disappearance has captured international headlines and threatens to harm Saudi's relations with both and Washington, as well as damage efforts by Mohammed to improve the country's image.

Erdogan challenged to provide CCTV images to back up its account that Khashoggi had left the consulate safely, indicating he did not find the current Saudi explanations sufficient.

"Is it possible there were no in a consulate, in an embassy?" he asked.

"If a bird flew, or a fly or a mosquito appeared, the systems would capture this; they (Saudi Arabia) have the most cutting-edge systems," he was quoted as saying. The consulate said CCTV cameras were not working that day and dismissed the murder claims as "baseless".

The case is also threatening the strong relationship the has built with Mohammed, who wants to turn the into a hub for innovation and reform. The two sides have worked together in confronting despite growing concern over the prince's campaign against dissidents, which critics say has revealed the true face of his rule.

In a reversal from Washington's initial low-key response, expressed determination to get to the bottom of the matter. "We can't let it happen. And we're being very tough and we have investigators over there and we're working with and frankly we're working with Saudi Arabia," Trump said in an interview with "Fox and Friends".

However, a Turkish diplomatic source quoted by the agency denied US investigators had been tasked to work on the case. And Trump later said the was not limiting arms sales to over the case. "They're going to take that money and spend it in or or someplace else," he said.

Jeremy Hunt, the of key Saudi ally and trade partner, Britain, told AFP there would be "serious consequences" if the allegations were true. Saudi Arabia also dropped a bid to join the world's club of French-speaking countries, The (OIF).

Khashoggi is a former government who fled Saudi Arabia in September 2017 and lived in the US fearing arrest back home. In his columns for Post and comments elsewhere, he was critical of some policies of as well as Riyadh's role in the war in

While unnamed Turkish officials quoted in the media have been giving sometimes macabre details of the alleged murder, Erdogan has so far been more circumspect. Erdogan said it would "not be right" to comment yet but said he had "concerns". "It's not possible for us to stay silent regarding an incident like this," he said.

urged Prince Mohammed to "release all evidence and information" concerning Khashoggi's status Turkish authorities have been given permission to search the consulate -- Saudi sovereign territory -- but this has not yet taken place.

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

First Published: Fri, October 12 2018. 01:20 IST