Foreign minister says investigations are ongoing in case of slain journalist

Turkey may launch international probe into Khashoggi

By Tugrul Cam

ANKARA 

Turkey will not hesitate to seek an international route if the probe of the October killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi hits a dead end, Turkey’s foreign minister said Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters after a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels, Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey’s probe into the killing of the Saudi journalist at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul is ongoing.

Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist working for The Washington Post, was killed after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

After saying he had left the consulate alive, Saudi Arabia admitted weeks later that Khashoggi was killed there, blaming his death on a group of rogue Saudi operatives.

Turning to recent remarks by a U.S. special envoy to Syria calling the Astana peace talks a failure, Cavusoglu called the remarks “unfortunate.”

“We never allowed the Astana or Sochi process to become an alternative to Geneva. International legitimacy is very important,” he said, touting the progress made under the Astana talks, brokered by Turkey, Russia and Iran.

U.S. Syria Envoy James Jeffrey will travel to Turkey for a High-Level Working Group on Syria and this issue will also be raised, he said.

Cavusoglu also said U.S. President Donald Trump brought up the issue of F-35 fighter jets when he met President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the weekend G20 summit.

“We don’t want any problem” with the F-35s, whose delivery has been threatened by the U.S. Congress over Turkey buying missile systems from Russia, he added.

Commenting on U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo giving Moscow 60 days to comply with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty over its alleged violations, Cavusoglu said Turkey is in favor of continuation of the Treaty.

The INF treaty, signed in 1987 by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President Ronald Reagan, was largely designed to stave off the prospects of nuclear war in Europe.

On Oct. 21, Trump announced his intention to withdraw from the treaty.

Asked about last month’s naval standoff between Russia and Ukraine, Cavusoglu said Turkey does not want more tension in its region, calling for Russia to release the seized Ukrainian ships and crew members.

On Nov. 25, Russia seized two Ukrainian navy ships and a tugboat along with 23 crew members off Crimea, accusing Kiev of entering its waters and provoking a conflict. 

Russia and Ukraine have been at loggerheads since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea after a controversial referendum.

Turkey, as well as the UN General Assembly, viewed the annexation as illegal.

Touching on counter-terrorism, a subject raised at the NATO foreign ministers meeting, he said NATO would establish a military training camp in Iraq, with Turkey contributing 90 of its staff, the second-largest national contingent.