ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey hopes to enter the Saudi consul’s residence in Istanbul on Wednesday in connection with the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Turkey’s foreign minister said after meeting U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Turkish officials have said they believe the journalist was murdered and his body removed, an allegation the Saudis have strongly denied. Khashoggi was a U.S. resident who wrote columns for the Washington Post and he was critical of the Saudi government, calling for reforms.
Turkish police had been expected to search the Saudi consul’s Istanbul residence on Tuesday. They did not do so, officers at the scene said late on Tuesday, because Saudi officials were not able to join. Hours earlier, the consul general left Turkey for Riyadh.
“Yesterday evening, unfortunately, police could not search the Saudi consul’s residence. The Saudis claimed that the consul’s family was inside,” Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters after meeting Pompeo.
“We hope the police will enter to the residence today. We have said before that Saudi Arabia must cooperate with us in every aspect without delay.”
Cavusoglu, who said the search would extend to the consul’s vehicles, said the consul was free to travel home and had not been deported.
He also said talks with Pompeo were “beneficial and fruitful”. Pompeo was on a brief visit to Turkey after having met with the Saudi king, crown prince and foreign minister in Riyadh on Tuesday.
Turkish crime scene investigators carried out a nine-hour search of the consulate on Monday night in an investigation to look into what happened to Khashoggi, who was last seen entering the Saudi consulate on Oct. 2.
“The consul’s behavior and approach drew reaction after Khashoggi disappeared,” Cavusoglu said - criticizing the way the consul behaved in a Reuters tour of the consulate - “especially how he opened the cabinets saying ‘look he is not here’ as if mocking people, behaving disrespectfully. This was not right.”
Writing by Sarah Dadouch; Editing by David Dolan, William Maclean