Saudi Arabia warned overnight that it will respond to threats and political pressure with tough measures of its own after US President Donald Trump said the oil-rich kingdom deserves "severe punishment" if responsible for the disappearance and suspected murder of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi.
Saudi Arabia on Sunday thanked Washington for not rushing to conclusions as the probe continues into the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The case has provoked an global outcry, with U.S. President Donald Trump threatening "severe punishment" if it turns out Khashoggi was killed in the consulate and European allies calling for "a credible investigation" and accountability for those responsible. But Ankara and Riyadh disagreed over the search after Saudi officials reportedly said they would only allow a superficial "visual" search.
Saudi Arabia has begun an internal investigation into the disappearance of a prominent journalist at its Istanbul consulate and could hold people accountable if the evidence warrants it, according to a Saudi official. Britain, France and Germany, which have also tended to prioritize economic ties with Riyadh, issued a joint statement saying they "expect the Saudi government to provide a complete and detailed response".
The development comes after a Saudi delegation of a dozen officials arrived in Turkey while Saudi King Salman and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the weekend discussed the case in their first telephone talks on the controversy.
But in a strongly worded op-ed published later on Sunday, Turki Aldakhil, general manager of the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya news channel, warned that if the U.S. imposed sanctions on Riyadh "it will stab its own economy to death", cause oil prices to reach as high as $200 a barrel, lead Riyadh to permit a Russian military base in the city of Tabuk, and drive the Middle East into the arms of Iran. He said the incident is being investigated and pledged "very powerful" consequences if Saudi Arabia is found guilty. But Mr Khashoggi's disappearance has led several business leaders and media outlets to back out of the upcoming investment conference in Riyadh called the Future Investment Initiative.
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He added that Saudi Arabia will not hesitate to form a joint investigation committee with Turkey to uncover the truth.
The Washington Post, citing unidentified US and Turkish officials, reported that Turkey had told USA officials it has audio and video recordings that prove Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate.
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In an interview to be aired Sunday, Trump told CBS' "60 Minutes" that "We're going to get to the bottom of it and there will be severe punishment".
Saudi Arabia's Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif bin Abdulaziz said that the reports are "lies and baseless allegations against the government of the Kingdom", reported CNN.