The fiancee of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi says she would welcome a change in US President Donald Trump’s approach to the killing, and may visit the US in March.
Khashoggi, a royal insider who became a critic of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by a team of Saudi operatives on October 2.
Mr Trump has resisted efforts in the US Congress to rebuke the Saudis, pointing to weapons sales as an important source of US jobs.
His administration is also reluctant to disturb the strategic relationship with the kingdom, seen as an important regional counterbalance to Iran, archrival of US ally Israel.
“I might visit America in March,” Khashoggi’s fiancee Hatice Cengiz told a news conference to mark the release of her book on Khashoggi. “I would welcome it if he (Trump) has a new approach on following this issue closely, or new actions to take.”
Mr Trump previously invited Cengiz to the US but she said she had rejected the invitation as she thought it was aimed at influencing public opinion in his own favour.
Earlier on Friday, an aide to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Saudi officials’ “complete lack of transparency” on the murder investigation is deeply concerning and detrimental to their credibility.
“Over the past four months, the Saudi authorities have been less than forthcoming in their dealings with their Turkish counterparts and the international community,” Erdogan’s communications director Fahrettin Altun said.
“Saudi authorities must extradite Mr Khashoggi’s killers to Turkey, where they committed a premeditated murder, as proof of their willingness to serve the cause of justice,” he said in a written statement to Reuters.
After making numerous contradictory statements about Khashoggi’s fate, Riyadh said he had been killed and his body dismembered when negotiations to persuade him to return to Saudi Arabia failed.
Republican and Democratic US politicians renewed their push on Thursday to penalise Saudi Arabia for the murder ahead of Friday’s deadline for Trump’s administration to submit a report on whether the crown prince ordered the killing.
“The Congress is renewed, the members are changed. I am hopeful. There is still hope. I believe the new Congress would follow this issue closer,” Ms Cengiz said.
Democrats now control the US House of Representatives.
On Thursday, a United Nations-led inquiry into the murder said evidence pointed to a brutal crime “planned and perpetrated” by Saudi officials, adding that Saudi officials had “seriously undermined” and delayed Turkey’s investigation. “I wish this report will accelerate the process so that more concrete things will be done on this situation,” Ms Cengiz said.
“I believe the UN report would have an international impact.”