Khashoggi's eldest son leaves Saudi Arabia for US

Win McNamee  Getty Images North America

While the Trump administration had inititally defended the kingdom's explanation for how Khashoggi was killed, on Tuesday, US President Donald Trump said Saudi authorities had staged the "worst cover-up ever".

Later, Saudi officials said he had been accidentally killed during a "fistfight".

The Kremlin said in its statement on Thursday that Putin and King Salman had addressed the situation related to the "Khashoggi case" during their phone conversation. "Many are trying to take advantage of this painful incident to divide the two [Turkey and Saudi Arabia], but they won't be able to do so".

The shifting explanations indicate Saudi Arabia is scrambling for a way out of the crisis that has enveloped the world's largest oil exporter and a major US ally in the Middle East.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to go after those behind Khashoggi's "savage murder", while Turkish media have published gruesome details of his alleged torture and decapitation.

Khashoggi, 59, was a contributing opinion writer for The Post who was living in Virginia after leaving Saudi Arabia because of fear about his safety.

The Saudi stock market surged Thursday a day after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made his first public comments on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and vowed to press on with reforms.

Trump has also insisted that killing will not interfere with U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia, citing a $110bn deal with Riyadh he announced past year.

Turkish officials especially are pushing the Saudi government to identify who ordered the killing.

The son of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Salah, and his family have left the Gulf kingdom after the government lifted a travel ban, Human Rights Watch said Thursday.

French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May both spoke via telephone with King Salman, according to a statement issued by the Saudi Foreign Ministry late Thursday, hours after the European Parliament's resolution passed.

Governments around the world, however, did not believe those claims.

An official at Turkey's presidential palace told Bloomberg, however, that while Turkey wants the crime to be uncovered, it had no interest in interfering in Saudi internal affairs or trying to influence who becomes the next king.

After Khashoggi first disappeared, Saudi Arabian officials claimed Khashoggi had simply walked out of the consulate.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he is working with the Treasury Department on whether to impose sanctions on those found responsible for the journalist's death.

"We will continue to demand that all authorities across the Middle East immediately release all opinion leaders and political prisoners".

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