Trump says 'rogue killers' may be behind Khashoggi disappearance

US Finance Minister Steven Mnuchin taking an ear piece out during a joint press conference with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble in Berlin Germany 16 March 2017

CNN reports that the Saudi government is preparing to say Jamal Khashoggi died during an interrogation that went wrong.

On that same day 15 other Saudis, including several officials, arrived in Istanbul on two planes and visited the building while Khashoggi was also inside, Turkish police sources said.

While Turkish officials have not officially stated what they believe happened to Khashoggi, they have reportedly told the USA that they have video and audio that suggests the journalist was tortured and murdered by a team of Saudis.

Saudi Arabia plowed $27 million into lobbying in Washington past year, making it one of the highest-spending countries seeking to influence US policy, according to public records.

In other words, if Saudi Arabia really did send a team to torture, kill and dismember Khashoggi - a journalist who wrote for the Washington Post - weapons sales are still more important.

Khashoggi vanished after entering a Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, igniting a global firestorm over the circumstances of his disappearance. "If the Saudis cut down the oil their country produces by a significant amount, this could cause a lot of tension on the oil markets and cause oil prices to jump very quickly in a very short amount of time, which would harm western economies", he said.

Saudi Arabia's government is discussing a plan to admit that missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, three people with knowledge of the situation tell NBC News.

Late Sunday, Saudi King Salman spoke by telephone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about Khashoggi.

"I actually think we'd be punishing ourselves if we did that", Trump told reporters, referring to cancelling the arms deal.

Saudi media followed on from that statement in television broadcasts and newspaper front pages Monday.

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"What further measures Australia should take - in terms of diplomatic relations, intelligence and law enforcement cooperation, economic ties ... should be determined in the light of the evidence and the Saudi government's response".

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Saudi Arabia had not cooperated in the investigation, despite proposing to create the joint working group with Turkish authorities.

"The Republic of Yemen expressed its deep appreciation for the high prestige enjoyed by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which makes it the cornerstone of the security and stability of the Arab and Islamic worlds, as well as stability of the region", read the statement, attributed to Yemen's state news agency Saba.

"We are going to try to get to the bottom of this very soon".

A Saudi official, not authorised to speak publicly, told Reuters that the king had ordered an internal investigation based on information from the joint team in Istanbul.

Saudi Arabia had earlier denied killing Khashoggi and denounced such assertions as "lies", saying he left the building shortly after entering.

Saudi Arabia has pledged to retaliate economically for any US punitive action.

Meanwhile, more leading business figures say they will not attend a major investment conference in Riyadh later this month.

Uber's chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said he will not be attending the event in Riyadh due to his concern over Mr Khashoggi's unknown fate.

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