Trump sends Secretary of State to meet Saudi king over Khashoggi disappearance

There are suspicions Khashoggi was targeted due to his criticism of Saudi crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Trump tweeted Monday that he had spoken with Saudi King Salman, "who denies any knowledge" of what happened to Khashoggi.

Saudi stocks dived 7.0 percent in early trading on Sunday as the oil-rich kingdom comes under increasing global pressure over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

More major players in worldwide finance and industry are pulling out of a high-profile business conference in Saudi Arabia in the wake of reports that a Saudi writer critical of the government disappeared and is feared dead after entering a Saudi consulate in Turkey.

Turkey believes Khashoggi was deliberately killed in the Saudi consulate and his body was removed on Oct 2.

Offering the rogue killer theory, Trump cited King Salman of Saudi Arabia's "firm" denial that Riyadh had anything to do with the situation - despite the fact that Turkey claims to possess evidence proving the journalist was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

"We're going to get to the bottom of it and there will be severe punishment", he said.

It remained unclear what forensic evidence would remain after Khashoggi's disappearance on October 2, and seemingly in emphasis of that point a cleaning crew carrying mops, trash bags and lugging cartons of milk also entered the consulate.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin still plans to attend a previously scheduled Saudi conference this week to address terrorist financing, but those plans could change as the investigation progresses, said White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow.

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The alleged hit squad was sent from Saudi Arabia and organized the killing.

The warning from the world's top oil exporter came after a turbulent day on the Saudi stock exchange, which plunged as much as 7 percent at one point Sunday.

Sens. Marco Rubio and Jeff Flake, members of the Foreign Relations Committee, have said Congress is prepared to move quickly and firmly if Trump fails to adequately respond to Khashoggi's disappearance.

According to the kingdom's official SPA news agency, Riyadh said it would retaliate in case any possible economic sanctions were adopted by other states over the case of Khashoggi in what has been seen as an allusion to calls on the U.S. administration to revoke its hefty arms deals with Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi government's Center for International Communication did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But he left Saudi Arabia roughly a year ago over fears for his safety after writing articles critical of the government, particularly Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

King Salman and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan spoke by telephone on Sunday evening and stressed the importance of the two countries creating a joint group as part of the probe.

But no one in Washington, D.C., has ever been at a cocktail party with a starving Yemeni child, and so Riyadh's offenses against such children did not threaten the U.S. -Saudi alliance.

In an interview to be aired Sunday, President Trump told CBS' 60 Minutes show that the consequences of Saudi Arabia being involved would be "severe".

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