Trump said it 'certainly looks' like Jamal Khashoggi is dead

Protesters hold portraits of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a demonstration in front of the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul

Protesters hold portraits of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a demonstration in front of the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul

President Trump acknowledged yesterday that USA -based journalist Jamal Khashoggi is likely dead and threatened "very severe" consequences if Saudi Arabia is found to be responsible.

The Trump administration faces growing bipartisan outrage in Congress over Saudi Arabia's role in Mr Khashoggi's disappearance.

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said he expects Turkish and Saudi Arabian investigations to reveal a "complete picture" of what happened to Khashoggi.

"The UK remains very concerned about Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance", a British government spokesperson said in a statement, insisting that the Saudis abide by their pledge to carry out a full and transparent investigation. He commented as he left Joint Base Andrews for a political trip to Montana.

President Donald Trump is reluctant to call out the Saudis and has cited their denials and said he doesn't want to jeopardise the sale of military equipment worth over $1 billion.

In this photo taken on December 15, 2014, general manager of Alarab TV, Jamal Khashoggi, looks on durina a press conference in the Bahraini capital Manama. Turkish authorities have told reporters that Khashoggi was murdered in the consulate by a state-sponsored hit squad, and other media outlets have reported subsequently that members of the team sent to Turkey had close ties to Saudi government.

Only then, Pompeo said, "we can make decisions how or if the United States should respond".

"I've heard no tape, I've seen no transcript", Pompeo told reporters overnight. But a number of European finance ministers and many top business executives have pulled out as global pressure on Riyadh has intensified over Khashoggi.

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Turkish officials have said they believe Khashoggi was murdered at the consulate and his body chopped up and removed. The Saudis have dismissed those reports as baseless but have yet to explain what happened to the writer.

Critics accused the president of being weak and giving the Saudi regime a potential way out if they did sanction the murder of Mr Khashoggi.

But Trump's willingness to give the Saudis more time to investigate the matter - at the behest of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, even as US intelligence agencies and worldwide leaders say Saudi Arabia's crown prince Mohammed bin Salman is behind Khashoggi's October 2 disappearance - complicates the growing crisis with the U.S.'s uneasy ally.

A report by the Washington Post - for which Khashoggi was a contributor - said Thursday that Trump-allied House Republicans are digging up right-wing dirt on the journalist in an effort to somehow lessen the significance of his death for USA foreign policy.

But some experts do not expect a serious breach in US-Saudi relations even if the royal family is held responsible, because with Iran expanding its influence in the region, there's too much at stake.

Trump also said on Tuesday that the criticism against the Saudi Kingdom amid the Khashoggi investigation was another instance of "guilty until proven innocent".

Meanwhile, CNN reported Friday that Turkish officials suspected within hours of Khashoggi's disappearance that he had likely been killed.

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