US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has called for a transparent investigation into the killing of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, following a meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir.
According to Press TV, the murder of Khashoggi, who escaped to the US last year and worked as a Washington Post columnist, has escalated into a crisis for the world’s top oil exporter as Saudi Arabia’s allies have reacted with outrage.
Mattis said Sunday that he met Jubeir during a conference in Bahrain on Saturday and discussed Khashoggi’s killing, which occurred at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on October 2.
“We discussed it. You know the same thing we talked about, the need for transparency, full and complete investigation,” Mattis told a small group of reporters traveling to Prague with him.
Mattis said “(There was) full agreement from foreign minister Jubeir, no reservations at all,” adding “We need to know what happened and it was very collaborative, in agreement.”
On Tuesday, US President Donald Trump said Saudi officials had engaged in the “worst cover-up ever” and that those behind the killing “should be in big trouble.”
But Trump has also highlighted Riyadh as a major purchaser of American weapons.
US lawmakers have accused Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS and the country’s de facto leader, of ordering the killing.
Khashoggi lived in self-imposed exile in the US for the past year and wrote editorial columns for The Washington Post that were critical of MBS.
Speaking alongside the Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis later on Sunday, Mattis was asked how an investigation would be able to determine whether MBS had any involvement in the killing.
“Turkey, with the evidence that they have compiled, will ensure that there is more than one review of what is going on here and I’m certain the investigation will include the evidence that Turkey has put forward so far,” Mattis said in the press conference.
Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor has said Khashoggi’s killing was premeditated, contradicting a previous official statement that it happened accidentally during a tussle in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
On Saturday, Jubeir told a security summit in Bahrain that Riyadh’s relations with the United States were “ironclad” amid what he described as “media hysteria” over the killing of Khashoggi.
At the same conference, Mattis had sharp words for Saudi Arabia, saying the killing of Khashoggi undermined the stability of the Middle East and that Washington would take additional measures against those responsible.