Donald Trump has said he is “not satisfied” with Saudi Arabia’s response to the death of Jamal Khashoggi.The US president initially described the explanation that the journalist was killed after a fist fight as “credible”, but his latest comments were more cautious.Asked if he was satisfied that Saudi officials had been fired over Mr Khashoggi’s death, he said: “No, I am not satisfied until we find the answer.”But it was a big first step, it was a good first step. But I want to get to the answer.”
Mr Trump said sanctions were a possible response but dismissed the idea of cancelling a $110bn (£84bn) military order from Saudi Arabia.
“It’s over a million jobs; that’s not helpful for us to cancel an order like that. That hurts us far more than it hurts them,” he added.
Saudi Arabia dramatically changed its story on Friday night after two weeks of insisting the journalist had left their Istanbul consulate alive.
Turkish officials say they have audio evidence that he was tortured, killed and cut up on an office desk after a 15-man “hit squad” flew into the country.
CCTV images of the group have identified several figures with close links to Saudi Arabia’s powerful crown prince, Mohammed Bin Salman.
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The hunt for Mr Khashoggi’s body is continuing in Turkey, with a search of a vast forest near Istanbul.
Multiple diplomatic cars were seen fanning out in different directions from the consulate after Mr Khashoggi went into the embassy on 2 October to get papers for his marriage.
Turkey has said the details of its investigation and forensic examinations inside consular buildings will soon be revealed and that there will not be a cover-up.
Many countries have expressed scepticism over the Saudi story that “discussions” with the 59-year-old “did not go as required and developed in a negative way, leading to a fight and a quarrel”.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: “We expect transparency from Saudi Arabia about the circumstances of his death… The information available about events in the Istanbul consulate is inadequate.”
French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called for a full investigation, joining calls by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres.
Ms Mogherini said the European Union insisted on a “continued thorough, credible and transparent investigation, shedding proper clarity on the circumstances of the killing and ensuring full accountability of all those responsible for it”.
How journalist met his death
Canada’s foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, said the explanations offered so far “lack consistency and credibility”. New Zealand and Australia have also become the latest in a long list of countries and major firms to pull out of a business conference next week in Saudi capital Riyadh.
Britain’s defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, has reiterated it is “very important” the Saudis give a full explanation of the circumstances of Mr Khashoggi’s death.
In contrast, Saudi allies – Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain among them – have praised the way Saudi Arabia has investigated the death.
A new, more detailed account of the alleged circumstances of the killing has also emerged from a senior Saudi government official.
The official, who spoke to Reuters news agency and asked for anonymity, claimed Mr Khashoggi was threatened with being drugged and kidnapped in order to return him to Saudi Arabia but was accidentally killed in a chokehold when he resisted.
Someone then dressed in Mr Khashoggi’s clothes to make it seem as if he had left the consulate.
The official said the body was rolled up in a rug and given to a “local cooperator” to get rid of. They said the government’s explanation for the death had been incorrect because it was base on “false information reported internally at the time.”
“Once it became clear these initial mission reports were false, it launched an internal investigation and refrained from further public comment,” the official added.
Critics have said Saudi Arabia’s response has been designed to distance the crown prince from the scandal, amid claims the country’s de-facto ruler would have almost certainly known about the plans.
Eighteen Saudis have been arrested and the country’s deputy intelligence chief and its royal court adviser sacked, Saudi officials said.
Donald Trump, in an interview with the Washington Post on Saturday, told the newspaper “obviously there’s been deception, and there’s been lies.