Trump: 'Certainly looks' like Saudi journalist is dead

Trump says consequences for the Saudis "will have to be very severe" if they are found to have killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Elad Benari,

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump said on Thursday that it "certainly looks" as though missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead, reported The Associated Press.

Trump did not say what he based his conclusion on, but stressed that the consequences for the Saudis "will have to be very severe" if they are found to have killed him.

Trump has previously warned that the kingdom will face "severe punishment" from the US if it is determined that Saudi Arabia was responsible for Khashoggi's death.

Khashoggi has not been seen since entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul more than two weeks ago.

Turkish authorities say he was killed and dismembered, but the Saudis have denied involvement.

On Wednesday, several media outlets reported the existence of audio recordings which prove that Khashoggi was brutally tortured and murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Trump later said the US has requested audio and video from Turkey related to the disappearance of Khashoggi.

"We have asked for it, if it exists," Trump said in the Oval Office, later adding that it "probably does."

"I want to find out what happened, where is the fault, and we will probably know that by the end of the week," he added.

Meanwhile on Thursday, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin pulled out of a major economic conference being hosted by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Mnuchin tweeted that he would withdraw from Saudi Arabia’s Future Investment Initiative conference next week, after a meeting with Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.