Arab leaders stand by Saudi Arabia after journalist's disappearance

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A team of cleaners entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul today - just hours before Turkish officials will be escorted around by Saudis in a joint inspection over the disappearance. Turkish officials have said they have audio recordings that prove the journalist, a known critic of the Saudi regime, was killed inside, his body dismembered for easy disposal.

Saudi Arabia is considering an admission that journalist Jamal Khashoggi died during an interrogation that went wrong, United States media reported yesterday.

If Riyadh goes public with its new explanation, it would require a reversal of its previous claim that Khashoggi had left the consulate alive. Reports have suggested that Prince Mohammed ordered Saudi officials to bring Khashoggi back to the country but during the attempt the journalist was killed.

On Monday, the Saudi government permitted Turkish officials to inspect the consulate nearly two weeks after Khashoggi first went missing.

The 33-year-old crown prince hopes to grow his country's $500 billion sovereign wealth fund - pounded by falling oil prices earlier this decade - into a $2 trillion global investment fund over the next dozen years.

Saudi arch-rival Iran said on Monday it would adopt a wait-and-see approach to Khashoggi's disappearance.

Turkish officials allege Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi regime living in the US, was killed in the compound.

The Journal, like CNN, said the Saudi statement has not been finalized.

The Arab League affirmed on Sunday its rejection of any political pressure applied on Saudi Arabia in relation to the Khashoggi affair.

The Khashoggi crisis has erupted as the USA tries to enforce a total ban next month on oil exports by Saudi archrival Iran, a critical part of the strategy to pressure Tehran after President Trump's withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal still backed by most other countries.

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Seasoned observers of Middle East politics, including some at senior levels of the Turkish government, have speculated for days about the likelihood that the royal court would seek to accuse a "rogue" operator within the Saudi security services of killing Khashoggi. And frankly the fact that it's a reporter you could say in many respects it. brings it to a level.

Britain, Germany and France have jointly called for a "credible investigation, ' Egypt has backed Saudi Arabia and warned of "false claims" against its ally and Australia's foreign minister has said she is 'deeply concerned".

Khashoggi's fate has troubled Washington and Saudi Arabia's other traditional Western allies.

Last week, President Trump vowed to uncover the truth about what happened and promised "severe punishment" for those responsible. At this moment there are no plans to change the Formula E calendar this season.

"The denial was very, very strong", Trump told reporters.

Dozens of media organisations - some of whom had set up tents - have kept a constant vigil outside the consulate in the expectation that the search would finally begin.

How far Ankara goes in escalating the crisis over Khashoggi may ultimately depend on the extent of worldwide backing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan receives. Khashoggi hasn't been seen since entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago.

The conference, hosted by Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is nicknamed "Davos in the Desert".

The worldwide conference, starting on 23 October, has been dubbed "Davos in the Desert", though the World Economic Forum says it has nothing to do with its annual event in the Swiss Alps.

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