Donald Trump, State Dept. say they don’t know what happened to missing Saudi journalist
“I am concerned about it. I don’t like hearing about it,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “Hopefully that will sort itself out. Right now nobody knows anything about it.”
Trump added that he hadn’t spoken to Saudi officials on the matter, but was planning to “at some point.”
State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said that the U.S. officials had seen “conflicting reports” about the status of the Washington Post contributor, and so were unwilling to “make any judgments about what happened to him.”
The U.S. is concerned about Khashoggi’s whereabouts, Nauert said, and would like to see the Saudi government conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into what happened to him.
WATCH: Growing suspicions Saudi Arabia assassinated outspoken journalist
Khashoggi, 59, went missing last week after visiting the Saudi consulate in Turkish capital Istanbul to collect paperwork to marry his Turkish fiancee.
Turkish officials say they believe Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate, and that a group of 15 Saudi nationals were involved in the murder.
Saudi Arabia has dismissed the allegation as baseless, while the United Nations has called the conservative kingdom to cooperate with Turkey in conducting an “impartial and independent investigation.”
Amid growing calls within the U.S. and around the world for Saudi Arabia to investigate Khashoggi’s disappearance, Republican Sen. Rand Paul said he’d try to push through a Senate vote stalling U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
Paul told Kentucky radio station WHAS that he wants to end arms shipments to the Gulf kingdom if there’s “any indication” that it was involved in killing Khashoggi.
A long-time critic of the Saudi government, Paul said he hoped Trump would reconsider his friendly policy towards Saudi Arabia “if there’s any evidence they killed this journalist.”
Later on Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that U.S. intelligence had intercepted communications of Saudi officials discussing a plan to capture Khashoggi, citing a source familiar with the situation.
Saudi officials intended to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia, the Washington Post reported the source as saying, but it was unclear what they intended to do with him — and whether the U.S. ever warned Khashoggi of the threat he faced.
WATCH: Accusations and denials made in search for missing Saudi journalist feared dead
U.S. and Saudi officials have yet to comment on that report.
— With files from Reuters
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