On the eve of his visit to Riyadh, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that that he will ask Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to ensure that journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s killers are “held accountable” for their crime.
"We will continue to have a conversation with the crown prince and the Saudis about ensuring the accountability is full and complete with respect to the unacceptable murder of Jamal Khashoggi," Pompeo told a news conference in Qatar.
"So, we'll continue to talk about that and make sure we have all the facts so that they are held accountable, certainly by the Saudis but by the United States as well."
Pompeo arrived in Saudi Arabia on Sunday night as the top US diplomat travels across the Middle East as part of an eight-day trip to Amman, Cairo, Manama, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Riyadh, Muscat, and finally Kuwait City. His statements come nearly three months after Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent journalist and columnist was murdered in the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul.
However, Pompeo’s statements were made in Doha, Qatar a country which has suffered due to Saudi Arabia’s imposed embargo despite being a key country in the Gulf region and a US ally. At the height of the controversy around Khashoggi’s killing, Pompeo’s bonhomie with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh had drawn outrage. This apart from the fact that US President Donald Trump has staunchly stuck by the rulers of Saudi Arabia and given multiple public denunciations of any connection between Khashoggi’s killing and kingdom’s crown prince.
Jamal Khashoggi was killed on October 2 in a case which stunned the world and seriously impacted Saudi Arbabia’s image. The journalist was murdered and his corpse dismembered inside the kingdom's Istanbul consulate. Evidence subsequently emerged that the killing was done by a team of Saudi officials sent from Riyadh and closely linked to the crown prince.
Riyadh prosecutors have announced the arrest and indictment of 11 men, and are seeking the death penalty against five of them.