Saudi Arabia likely to admit that journalist Jamal Khashoggi died during interrogation

Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi

Turkish police on Monday searched the Saudi consulate in Istanbul for the first time since Khashoggi, a Saudi national and US resident who became increasingly critical of powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, went missing.

The new explanation, whatever its truth, seemed meant to ease the political crisis that Khashoggi's disappearance has created for Saudi Arabia.

His comments came as Saudi Arabia was last night said to be preparing to admit that Mr Khashoggi died as a result of an interrogation that went wrong, according to reports in the US. Saudi Arabia has called those allegations "baseless", but has been unable to explain what happened to him.

In this file photo taken on December 15, 2014, Jamal Khashoggi looks on during a press conference in the Bahraini capital Manama. "Our lawsuit holds Trump accountable", he said.

The Saudi energy minister circulated a statement Monday reminding Washington journalists that the kingdom had long served as the world's energy "shock absorber". "The King has ordered the public prosecutor to open an internal investigation into the Khashoggi matter based on the info from the joint team in Istanbul", said the official.

Donald Trump had previously suggested "rogue killers" could be behind Mr Khashoggi's disappearance.

Turkish officials had speculated that the Saudi government would blame "rogue" elements of its security services as a way of insulating Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince, from global criticism.

Seznec suggested that if the crisis escalated, the crown prince could even demand payment for oil in China's currency, the yuan, instead of dollars.

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Khashoggi had written critically about Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, son of King Salman, for The Washington Post.

"Many in Washington have reached the conclusion that this is a guy we can't do business with", said Gerald Feierstein, the director for government relations, policy and programs at the Middle East Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, and a former USA ambassador to Yemen.

Khashoggi has criticized Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen, its recent diplomatic spat with Canada and its arrest of women's rights activists after the lifting of a driving ban for women-policies seen as initiatives of the crown prince. Turkish officials say they believe he was murdered there and his body removed. The evidence never surfaced, however, and the claims stopped after a sudden increase in high-level diplomatic contacts between Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Saudi officials previously have called the allegations "baseless", but reports in United States media on Tuesday suggested the kingdom may acknowledge the writer was killed there. That potentially offers the US -allied kingdom a possible path out of a global diplomatic firestorm. Those intercepts were shared with senators in classified materials last week, making it impossible to suppress them. "Think of that, $110 billion". And ensuring Riyadh's willingness to increase oil production so that coming sanctions on Iranian oil do not lead to a surge in gas prices has been at least as important.

Richard LeBaron, a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia's neighbour Kuwait and a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, said Riyadh had "various ways" of responding to punitive measures.

As of Monday, the Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, still planned to attend an investor conference in Riyadh this month where Crown Prince Mohammed was expected to speak.

But the New York Times called that figure "wildly inflated and misleading", saying the package in question "essentially consisted of letters of intent or interest, not actual contracts".

Prince Mohammed has aggressively pitched the kingdom as a destination for foreign investment.

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