Saudi King Salman and his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have called Jamal Khashoggi’s eldest son to express their condolences over the journalist’s death.
The rulers phoned Saleh Khashoggi more than two weeks after his father went missing having entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to get papers so he could marry his Turkish fiancee.
Saudi Arabia only admitted the Washington Post journalist was dead after weeks of denying anything to do with his disappearance.
The government has claimed that Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Saudi rulers, died during a fistfight in the consulate. Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir has since admitted the writer was murdered but that the killing was a ‘tremendous mistake’ by a ‘rogue operation’.
US President Donald Trump has defended Prince Mohammed’s leadership and praised him for having ‘very good control’ – but added in an interview: ‘Obviously there’s been deception and there’s been lies. Their stories are all over the place.’
More than two weeks after Jamal Khashoggi was murdered, Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman offered their condolences to his family. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs released this official image to announce the news
The image comes as it was revealed that Prince Mohammed was reportedly shocked by the backlash against Khashoggi’s murder and Saudi Arabia’s response to it
Saudia Arabia’s royal court put out an official image, featuring both King Salman and Prince Mohammed’s pictures, to announce the phone call to Saleh.
‘The leadership extends condolences to the family of Jamal Khashoggi,’ the headline of the image read.
‘Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud extends condolences to the family and relatives of Jamal Khashoggi.’
‘Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Vice President of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Defense, has made a phone call with Saleh Khashoggi, in which he offers condolences to him and his family on the death of Jamal Khashoggi.’
The image comes as it was revealed that Prince Mohammed was reportedly shocked by the backlash against Khashoggi’s murder and Saudi Arabia’s response to it.
His royal court was ‘relaxed’ when news of Khashoggi’s disappearance first broke, a source close to Saudi Arabia’s royal family told the Wall Street Journal.
‘Then it snowballed. When things started heated up in the States, everybody started getting worried,’ the source added.
And no one was reportedly more surprised than the Crown Prince, who couldn’t see why the story was ‘such a big deal’.
‘He was really shocked that there was such a big reaction to it,’ added another source close to the royal court.
Prince Mohammed (pictured with Donald Trump in March) has continued to deny any knowledge over the journalist’s murder and continues to receive support from Trump
Merkel: No arms for Riyadh while questions remain over killing
Germany will not export arms to Saudi Arabia while the current uncertainty over the fate of journalist Jamal Khashoggi persists, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday.
Campaigning for her party in a regional election, Merkel repeated to a news conference her earlier condemnation of Khashoggi’s killing, which Saudi Arabia admitted had taken place inside its consulate in Istanbul.
‘First, we condemn this act in the strongest terms,’ she said. ‘Second, there is an urgent need to clarify what happened – we are far from this having been cleared up and those responsible held to account … As far as arms exports are concerned, those can’t take place in the current circumstances.’
Today, a top German official pressed for a joint EU position on Saudi Arabia after Berlin backed a freeze on arms exports to the kingdom.
Economy Minister Peter Altmaier underlined Monday its position that ‘we won’t at this point approve any further arms exports because we want to know what happened.’
Altmaier told ZDF television that a joint EU position is needed ‘because only if all European countries agree, this will make an impression on the government in Riyadh.’
He said ‘it will have no positive consequences if we, as we are doing, currently don’t pursue our arms exports if at the same time other countries fill this gap.’
‘He feels betrayed by the West. He said he will never forget how people turned against him before evidence was produced.’
The furor surrounding Khashoggi’s death has showed no signs of slowing down since he first vanished at the beginning of the month.
After weeks of denying they knew anything about Khashoggi’s disappearance, the Saudi government confirmed he was dead.
On Sunday a Saudi official claimed that Khashoggi was killed by ‘rogue’ operatives who placed him ‘in a chokehold position’ to prevent him from leaving the consulate and calling for help.
The official said Mr Khashoggi after resisting attempts to return him to Saudi Arabia before his body was rolled in a rug and given to a local ‘co-operator’ to dispose of.
Eighteen men have since been detained by the government in connection with Khashoggi’s murder.
Prince Mohammed was reportedly so astounded by the international response to Khashoggi that he even reached out to Jared Kushner.
He reportedly called Kushner on October 10 – eight days after Khashoggi disappeared – and asked him ‘why the outrage’, according to sources who were briefed on the phone conversation.
Kushner and National Security Adviser John Bolton then reportedly told the prince that he needed to ‘get to the bottom of Mr Khashoggi’s disappearance fast’.
Trump has since tried to downplay Kushner and the prince’s friendship, telling reporters on Saturday that they are just ‘two young guys’ who are the ‘same age’.
Prince Mohammed was reportedly so astounded by the response to the story that he called up Jared Kushner days after Khashoggi disappeared. They are pictured here together with Trump in May 2017
Trump has since tried to downplay Kushner and the prince’s friendship, telling reporters on Saturday that they are just ‘two young guys’ who are the ‘same age’
He also claimed that Kushner, 37, barely knows the 33-year-old prince, even though the two men have had several one-on-one meetings and are reported to communicate with each other via WhatsApp – a private messaging system.
Prince Mohammed and Kushner held their first White House meeting in March 2017. They have had additional face-to-face meetings at least four more times and are said to have bonded given their close ages and powerful positions within their families.
‘They’re two young guys. Jared doesn’t know him well or anything. They are just two young people. They are the same age. They like each other, I believe,’ the president told The Washington Post.
But behind closed doors, sources said Trump is frustrated that his son-in-law’s close relationship with the Crown Prince has become a liability in the international crisis.
Meanwhile Kushner has been urging the president to stand by the prince and argues that he can survive this scandal just as he has with others in the past, according to The New York Times.