October 24, 2018 / 2:42 PM / 24 days ago

U.S. wants 'perfect clarity' on Khashoggi case: Pompeo

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his visits in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, October 16, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis/Pool/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States wants perfect clarity on what happened in the death of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an internal email sent widely to U.S. State Department employees.

“We are already seeing steps from Saudi Arabia reflecting serious accountability, but we won’t be satisfied until we get perfect clarity on exactly what transpired,” Pompeo said in a “Miles with Mike” email sent to department employees on Tuesday evening and reviewed by Reuters on Wednesday.

In the email, which described his trip to Saudi Arabia and Turkey last week, Pompeo said the purpose of his visit to the oil-exporting Gulf monarchy was “to impress upon Saudi Arabia’s leadership the importance of determining what happened to Jamal Khashoggi.”

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who lived in the United States and a critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, disappeared after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

Saudi Arabia has given conflicting accounts about Khashoggi’s killing, first denying his death and later saying the journalist had died inside the consulate after a fight, an explanation that has drawn international skepticism.

On Sunday, Riyadh called the killing a “huge and grave mistake,” but sought to shield the crown prince from the widening crisis, saying the prince had not been aware.

President Donald Trump, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, said the crown prince bore ultimate responsibility for the operation that led to Khashoggi’s killing. Trump said on Tuesday Saudi authorities had staged the “worst cover-up ever” in Khashoggi’s death.

Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Will Dunham

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