Donald Trump has said the US is being “very tough” in its bid to find out what has happened to missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The US president told Fox and Friends he was committed to getting to the bottom of the disappearance, with the writer having not been seen since he walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week.
Officials in Turkey believe the critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was killed and dismembered in the consulate, and have published images of an alleged “assassination squad” and movements around the building at the time of the disappearance.
Mr Trump is a key ally of the oil-rich Gulf state and has expressed reservations over withholding American arm sales over the claims, but said the US was working hard with Saudi Arabia and Turkey to get answers.
“We can’t let it happen – we’re being very tough and we have investigators over there and we’re working with Turkey and frankly we’re working with Saudi Arabia,” he said.
“I have to find out what happened. We’re probably getting closer than you might think.”
Saudi Arabia has repeatedly insisted that the allegations from Turkey are “baseless” and Mr Trump has been reluctant to criticise the regime, describing their relationship as “excellent”.
He has continuously endorsed the crown prince despite human rights organisations expressing serious concerns over the imprisonment and persecution of dissidents, and the ongoing Saudi bombing of Yemen.
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said the UK government was “extremely worried”.
“People who have long thought of themselves as Saudi’s friends are saying this is a very, very serious matter,” he said.
“If these allegations are true, there will be serious consequences because our friendships and our partnerships are based on shared values. We are extremely worried.”
Mr Khashoggi – a contributor to The Washington Post – has not been seen since 2 October when he went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain official documents for his upcoming marriage.
His fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, has been invited to meet Mr Trump in the Oval Office.