Saudi mulling over admission that journalist was killed in botched abduction

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"The king firmly denied any knowledge of it", said Mr. Trump, who then offered a suggestion by King Salman that it "could have been rogue killers, who knows?"

Trump despatched Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for what the State Department described as "face to face meetings with the Saudi leadership" to find out what happened.

But Khashoggi's disappearance set off a firestorm of worldwide criticism after Turkish authorities reported that the prominent critic of the regime was killed and dismembered inside the Istanbul embassy by Saudi operatives.

The New York Times, citing a person familiar with the Saudi plans, reported the crown prince had approved an interrogation or abduction of Khashoggi.

On Monday, the Saudi government permitted Turkish officials to inspect the consulate nearly two weeks after Khashoggi first went missing. Among other things, Turkish officials have said, an autopsy specialist carrying a bone saw was among 15 Saudi operatives who flew in and out of Istanbul the day Khashoggi disappeared.

But late yesterday evening - after Turkish authorities placed high iron barriers in front of the consulate - a motorcade of six cars drew up and Turkish police and prosecutors entered the premises. Most experts say that probably won't happen. That potentially offers the USA -allied kingdom a possible path out of a global diplomatic firestorm.

"Naturally as a result of any sanctions inflation will rise in [the US] but given global economics this contagion in terms of impacts may spread to other countries who have renegotiated their tariffs and other trade issues with [the US]", said Theodore Karasik, senior advisor at Washington-based consultancy Gulf State Analytics.

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"If they don't buy it from us, they're going to buy it from Russian Federation or they're going to buy it from China", he said.

The possible curtailment of production by Saudi Arabia, which has in recent months boosted its exports to the USA, partly in response to Mr Trump's calls to slow the oil price rally will come amid declining supply from Iran. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, KKR executive David Petraeus and Ford Motor Chairman Bill Ford have also said that they will not attend the Saudi event.

Mr Trump's comments led to a market sell-off on the kingdom's Tadawul benchmark index this week. Virgin Atlantic, which operates flights between Dubai and London but will withdraw the service from March 31, 2019, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It is highly unlikely an attempted rendition of Khashoggi could have been carried out without the knowledge of Saudi rulers. "Think of that, $110 billion". Writing in an op-ed yesterday, Aldakhil suggested that the Russians and Iranians will exploit the vacuum while the West would suffer economically due an astronomical rise in oil price, which he said could increase to as much as $200 a barrel.

Riyadh, however, has vowed to hit back against any punitive measures imposed over the affair.

Saudi Arabia has said it would retaliate against any pressure or economic sanctions "with greater action", and Arab allies rallied to support it.

As of Monday, the Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, still planned to attend an investor conference in Riyadh this month where Crown Prince Mohammed was expected to speak. The columnist is one of the best-known news-media personalities in the kingdom and has been a confidant to several previous kings and princes.

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