RIYADH: British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt held a meeting with King Salman in Riyadh on Monday and discussed the latest developments in the region and according to British sources the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Hunt also held talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir.
Speaking before the meeting, the minister said he would discuss the war in Yemen, where Britain is supporting fresh UN efforts for peace talks.
“Britain has a unique position, both as pen-holder at the UN Security Council and as a key influencer in the region, so today I am travelling to the Gulf to demand that all sides commit to this process,” Hunt said. He also said he would discuss the case of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Hunt’s visit comes after British undersecretary for foreign affairs Simon McDonald held talks with Prince Mohammed and Al-Jubeir in Riyadh.
During his Gulf tour, the he British foreign minister then travelled to the United Arab Emirates to meet with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. Hunt then met with his UAE counterpart and Minister of and International Cooperation, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed.
France denies report
Meanwhile, France on Monday denied being in possession of recordings related to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi and accused Turkey of playing political games with the case.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that France, Germany and Britain had been handed the tapes, but French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said this was not the case, as far as he knew.
“If the Turkish president has information to give to us, he must give it to us,” Le Drian told French TV. “That means he has a political game in this situation.”
Khashoggi, a Saudi national living in the United States, was killed in the Kingdom’s Istanbul consulate last month.
Saudi Arabia said the 59-year-old had been murdered at the mission in a “rogue” operation by people operating beyond their authority. Eighteen Saudis have been arrested in connection with his death.
Turkish point of view
According to a BBC report, Turkey says it has shared recordings related to the murder of the journalist and writer Jamal Khashoggi with the US, the UK, Saudi Arabia and others.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan repeated his assertion that Saudi Arabia knew who had killed Khashoggi.
Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi rulers, was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October. Saudi Arabia has admitted he was murdered there, but denied suggestions its royal family was involved. It had initially maintained the writer had left the consulate unharmed.
The Saudis have also denied comments allegedly made by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman describing Khashoggi as a dangerous Islamist. The reported phone call to the White House came before Saudi Arabia admitted Khashoggi had been killed.
Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has become the first western leader to confirm Turkish claims that an audio recording of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder exists and has been passed to intelligence agencies.
The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said he had given recordings“ to Saudi Arabia, to America, to the Germans, the French, to the British, to all of them”, but initially there was no independent confirmation from any country that they had heard it.
Speaking at a press conference in Paris, where he attended a peace forum after armistice ceremonies, Trudeau said Canadian intelligence had listened to the audio tape provided by Turkish intelligence, but he had not done so.
“Canada’s intelligence agencies have been working very closely on this issue with Turkish intelligence and Canada has been fully briefed on what Turkey had to share,” he said.
“I had a conversation with Erdoğan a couple of weeks ago, and here in Paris we had brief exchanges and I thanked him for his strength in responding to the Khashoggi situation.”