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Turkey says has not shared Khashoggi audio with anyone; Pompeo refutes ABC report

Reuters , Friday 19 Oct 2018
Pompeo, Cavusoglu
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo greets Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu before their meeting in Ankara, Turkey, October 17, 2018 (Photo: Reuters)
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Turkey has not shared audio recordings said to document the reported killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, its foreign minister said on Friday, dismissing reports it had passed them on to the United States.

ABC News, citing a senior Turkish official, reported on Thursday that the recording had been played for U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his visit to Ankara a day earlier and that he was given a transcript.

Pompeo denied the report, telling reporters, "I’ve heard no tape, I’ve seen no transcript."

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters during a trip to Albania: "Turkey has not given a voice recording to Pompeo or any other American official."

"We will share the results that emerge transparently with the whole world. We have not shared any information at all with any country," he added.

Turkish police meanwhile are searching a forest on the outskirts of Istanbul and a city near the Sea of Marmara for Khashoggi's remains, two senior Turkish officials told Reuters on Thursday.

His disappearance and presumed death has caused an international outcry and strained relations between Saudi Arabia and the West.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and senior ministers from France, Britain and the Netherlands have abandoned plans to attend an Oct. 23-25 investor conference in Riyadh, joining a list of Western business executives and putting the high-profile event in question.

Airbus said on Friday its defence chief Dirk Hoke would no longer attend either.

"VERY SERIOUS MATTER"

British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt said on Friday allegations regarding Khashoggi would be totally unacceptable if true but any response by Britain would be "considered".

"Part of our reaction will depend on the Saudi reaction, and whether we sense that they are taking it as seriously as we are taking it. But this is a very, very serious matter," Hunt told BBC radio.

U.S. President Donald Trump had initially appeared unwilling to distance himself too much from the Saudis, citing Riyadh's role in countering Iranian influence in the region and tens of billions of dollars in potential arms deals.

However, on Thursday, he said he believes Khashoggi is dead and that the U.S. response to Saudi Arabia will likely be "very severe" but that he wanted to get to the bottom of what happened. He has previously speculated without providing evidence that "rogue killers" could be responsible.

Trump says the United States has asked Turkey for any audio or video evidence, while Pompeo said Riyadh should be given a few more days to complete its own probe.

Turkish authorities widened the geographic focus of their search after tracking the routes and stops of cars that reportedly left the Saudi consulate and the consul's residence on the day Khashoggi was last seen.

Investigators have recovered many samples from searches of both buildings, senior officials have told Reuters, and will attempt to analyse those for traces of Khashoggi's DNA.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online.

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