Bin Salman says Khashoggi's murder 'painful to all Saudis'
RIYADH - Saudi Arabia's crown prince said on Wednesday the case of Jamal Khashoggi was "painful" and that "justice will prevail" following the killing of the Saudi journalist at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Appearing on a discussion panel at an international investment conference in Riyadh, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said all culprits would be punished, and that Saudi Arabia and Turkey would work together "to reach results."
"The crime was very painful to all Saudis. And it is painful, heinous to every human being in the world... the incident is not justifiable." Prince Mohammed said in his first comments since the murder of the journalist.
"Justice in the end will prevail."
Hours earlier US President Donald Trump, in his toughest comments yet, told the Wall Street Journal that the crown prince bore ultimate responsibility for the operation that led to Khashoggi's killing.
Trump said he wanted to believe Prince Mohammed when he said that lower level officials were to blame for the killing at the Saudi mission.
But he suggested responsibility lay higher up: "Well, the prince is running things over there more so at this stage. He's running things and so if anybody were going to be, it would be him."
His comments heaped pressure on his close ally amid a global outcry over the journalist's death, and came hours before Prince Mohammed's appearance at a Saudi investment conference where he is due to make his most high profile comments since Khashoggi was killed on Oct. 2.
A number of high profile business and political figures have pulled out of the conference over the death of the journalist, a prominent critic of Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan spoke to Prince Mohammed on Wednesday and the two discussed the steps needed to bring to light all aspects of the killing of Khashoggi, a presidential source said.
An adviser to Turkey's president said Prince Mohammed had "blood on his hands" over Khashoggi, the bluntest language yet from someone linked to Erdogan.
Saudi authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the remarks by Trump and the Erdogan adviser.
Riyadh has blamed a "rogue operation" for the death of the prominent Saudi journalist and said the crown prince had no knowledge of the killing.
But the kingdom is under mounting international pressure over the killing amid US accusations of a monumental cover-up by the kingdom.
Prince Mohammed said Saudi Arabia was working with the Turkish authorities to investigate the case.
"Many are trying to exploit the Khashoggi affair to drive a wedge between Saudi Arabia and Turkey," he said.
"But they will not succeed as long as there is a king named Salman and a crown prince named Mohammed bin Salman."
The death of Khashoggi, a US resident and Washington Post columnist, has sparked global outrage and threatened relations between Riyadh and Washington as well as other Western nations.
For Saudi Arabia's allies, the burning question has been whether they believe that Prince Mohammed, who has painted himself as a reformer, has any culpability in the killing, a possibility raised by several US lawmakers.
Western media and rights groups have been vocally critical of Mohammad bin Salman's leadership and what they see as the shortfalls of his reform program, citing the increased arrests of activists and political opponents, the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen's war and the escalation of a diplomatic dispute with Qatar.
But Bin Salman seemed to brush off the rampant speculation, even joking about allegations that Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri was detained in the kingdom last year, saying he would leave after attending the investment conference.
"Prime Minister Saad is staying in the kingdom for two days so I hope you don't spread rumours that he was kidnapped," he said during a panel discussion at the event.