A team of Turkish investigators has entered the residence of the Saudi consul general in Istanbul as part of an investigation into the disappearance and suspected killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Speaking to a news conference earlier on Wednesday, Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said the search was held off after Saudi authorities told Turkish officials Mohammad al-Otaibi’s family were still in the residence.
“We expect the search in the residence and vehicles to be carried out today,” Cavusoglu said, following a meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Cavusoglu, who was speaking from the airport in Ankara, said the talks with Pompeo were “beneficial and fruitful”.
On Tuesday, Turkish police said the search was called off because Saudi officials were not able to join, referring to the joint probe team assigned to investigate the whereabouts of Khashoggi, who has been missing since entering the Saudi consulate on October 2.
Al-Otaibi left Istanbul for Saudi Arabia on the same day, after Turkish authorities said they would not issue a travel ban on Saudi officials.
The Saudi and Turkish investigation teams searched the Saudi consulate late Monday night.
Four forensic vehicles arrived outside the consulate and took away soil samples as well as a metal door from the garden. A police dog was part of the search team.
Cavusoglu also said Pompeo had passed on US President Donald Trump‘s messages regarding Khashoggi’s disappearance to Erdogan during the meeting.
Pompeo arrived in Ankara on Wednesday from a visit to Riyadh where he met Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) over Khashoggi’s case.
The US secretary of state and MBS at their meeting “agreed on the importance of a thorough, transparent, and timely investigation that provides answers” over Khashoggi’s disappearance, according to a US statement.
But Pompeo refused to be drawn on whether Khashoggi was alive or dead and who could be responsible. “I don’t want to talk about any of the facts. They didn’t want to either.”
Suleyman Soylu, the Turkish interior minister, told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday said there must be a “joint consensus” in order for the search at the residence of the Saudi consul general to go ahead.
“There is an agreement, but for the search to start, there must be a joint consensus. The joint consensus is on the wait,” he said.
Soylu also emphasised that the case was not only a global matter but also a test for the Turkish judiciary.
“We have managed and are continuing to manage this issue transparently and open to the world within the measures given by law,” he said.