Turkey steps up pressure on Saudi Arabia over missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi
President Donald Trump, meanwhile, expresses reservations about withholding American arms sales to the kingdom over the writer.
Pictures of missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi are placed on police barrier during a demonstration organized by Turkish-Arabic Media Association in front of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.Tolga Bozoglu / EPA
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The kingdom calls the allegation "baseless," but has not offered any evidence to explain why Khashoggi simply walked out of the consulate and disappeared though his fiancée waited outside for him.
Erdogan was quoted by Turkish media on Thursday as telling journalists flying with him back home from a visit to Hungary that "we cannot remain silent to such an incident."
"How is it possible for a consulate, an embassy not to have security camera systems? Is it possible for the Saudi Arabian consulate where the incident occurred not to have camera systems?" Erdogan asked. "If a bird flew, if a mosquito appeared, these systems would catch them and (I believe) they (the Saudis) would have the most advanced of systems."
Meanwhile, Trump told reporters in the Oval Office that he has a call in to Khashoggi's fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, who has appealed to the president and first lady Melania Trump for help.
Trump said he had spoken with the Saudis about what he called a "bad situation," but he did not disclose details of his conversations. He also said the U.S. was working "very closely" with Turkey, "and I think we'll get to the bottom of it."
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said national security adviser John Bolton and presidential senior adviser Jared Kushner spoke on Tuesday to Crown Prince Mohammed about Khashoggi.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo then had a follow-up call with the crown prince to reiterate the U.S. request for information and a thorough, transparent investigation.
In an interview later Wednesday with "Fox News @ Night," Trump said he wanted to find out what happened to Khashoggi but appeared reluctant to consider blocking arms sales, citing economic reasons.
"I think that would be hurting us," Trump said. "We have jobs, we have a lot of things happening in this country. We have a country that's doing probably better economically than it's ever done before."
"Part of that is what we're doing with our defense systems and everybody's wanting them," he continued. "And frankly, I think that that would be a very, very tough pill to swallow for our country. I mean, you're affecting us and, you know, they're always quick to jump that way."
On his first international trip as president, Trump visited Saudi Arabia and announced $110 billion in proposed arms sales. The administration also relies on Saudi support for its Middle East agenda to counter Iranian influence, fight extremism and support an expected peace plan between Israel and the Palestinians.