Turkey has asked Riyadh to prove that journalist Jamal Khashoggi left its Istanbul consulate alive before going missing. Officials fear the columnist for The Washington Post was killed at the premises.
Saudi Arabia has agreed to let Turkish officials search its consulate in Istanbul, Turkey's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday, after the mysterious disappearance of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi a week ago.
Turkish officials believe Khashoggi, a fierce critic of Riyadh's policies and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was likely murdered inside the mission where he had gone to obtain an official document for his upcoming marriage to his Turkish partner.
Saudi Arabia, which has denied the accusations, is under immense international pressure, including from the US and the EU, to support a "thorough and open" probe into the journalist's disappearance.
The Turkish ministry didn't say when the premises would be searched, prompting some experts to question the usefulness of the process.
"If the search is carried out a week after the incident, everyone knows that all traces would have been cleared by now," Turkish political scientist Ahmet Kasim Han told DW. He added that Saudi Arabia's agreeing to Turkey's request to search the consulate would "at best reduce tensions between the two countries."
Relations between Ankara and Riyadh have been strained over Turkey's support for Qatar in its yearlong dispute with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's sympathetic attitude toward the Muslim Brotherhood, which Riyadh considers to be a terrorist organization. Saudi Arabia is also unhappy about Ankara's growing proximity to the kingdom's Shiite rival, Iran.
Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said the Vienna Convention allowed for consulates to be searched by the authorities of the host country with the consent of the mission chief.
"The consulate building will be searched in the framework of the investigation," Aksoy said in a written statement.
US President Donald Trump has expressed concern about the writer's disappearance. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said officials have taken up the matter with their Saudi counterparts.
"We call on the government of Saudi Arabia to support a thorough investigation of Mr. Khashoggi's disappearance and to be transparent about the results of that investigation," Pompeo said in a statement.
EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini sought official clarifications about Khashoggi's whereabouts.
"On this, let me subscribe 100 percent (to) what [US] Secretary [of State Mike] Pompeo said just a few hours ago. We are fully aligned with the United States on this, with the US position on this," she said.
The United Nations human rights office voiced deep concern on Tuesday at Khashoggi's disappearance and urged Riyadh and Ankara to investigate.
"We call for cooperation between Turkey and Saudi Arabia to conduct a prompt and impartial investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Khashoggi's disappearance and to make the findings public," UN human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva.
ap/rt (AP, Reuters, AFP)