Dubai, Oct 22 (AP/UNB) — Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has called the son of Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul by officials that allegedly included a member of the royal's entourage.
King Salman likewise called Khashoggi's son, Salah.
That's according to statements published early Monday by the state-run Saudi Press Agency. The statements said both King Salman and Prince Mohammed "expressed his condolences"
Khashoggi was killed Oct. 2 at the consulate, where he had gone to get paperwork to be married.
For weeks, Saudi Arabia insisted the Washington Post contributor had left the consulate. The kingdom finally acknowledged his death early Saturday in what it described as a "fistfight."
Turkish media quotes officials saying a team of 15 Saudis removed Khashoggi's fingers, killed him and dismembered him.
Istanbul, Oct 22 (AP/UNB)— In a sign of growing pressure on Saudi Arabia, Turkey said it will announce details of its investigation into the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Tuesday and U.S. congressional leaders said the Gulf kingdom — in particular its crown prince — should face severe consequences for the death of the writer in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
The announcement on Sunday by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he will "go into detail" about the Khashoggi case in a speech in parliament heightened hopes for some clarity in a case that has been shrouded in mystery, conflicting accounts and shocking allegations since Khashoggi, a critic of Prince Mohammed bin Salman, disappeared after entering the consulate on Oct 2.
Erdogan spoke after Saudi Arabia, in a statement early Saturday, finally acknowledged that 59-year-old Khashoggi had died in the consulate, though its explanation that he was killed in a "fistfight" was met with international skepticism and allegations of a cover-up designed to absolve Prince Mohammed of direct responsibility. Saudi Arabia said 18 Saudis were arrested and that several top intelligence officials were fired.
Pro-government media in Turkey have reported a different narrative, saying a Saudi hit squad of 15 people traveled to Turkey to kill the columnist for The Washington Post before leaving the country hours later in private jets.
"Why did these 15 people come here? Why were 18 people arrested? All of this needs to be explained in all its details," Erdogan said.
Meanwhile, Istanbul's chief prosecutor summoned 28 more staff members of the Saudi consulate, including Turkish citizens and foreign nationals, to give testimony on Monday, Turkish state broadcaster TRT reported. Prosecutors have previously questioned consulate staff; some Turkish employees reportedly said they were instructed not to go to work around the time that Khashoggi disappeared.
Turkish news agency Anadolu Agency reported Sunday that Khashoggi's fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, has been given 24-hour police protection.
Also Sunday, images that were obtained by TRT World, a Turkish news channel that broadcasts in English, showed Khashoggi as he arrived at a police barrier before entering the consulate on Oct. 2. The images, taken from security camera video, show the writer being searched before continuing toward the building.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Fox News that Khashoggi's killing was "a rogue operation" and that "we don't know where the body is.'"
"The individuals who did this did this outside the scope of their authority," he said. "There obviously was a tremendous mistake made and what compounded the mistake was the attempt to try to cover up. That is unacceptable to the government."
However, a leading U.S. Senate Republican said the Saudi explanation, which followed initial denials from the kingdom that it knew anything about Khashoggi's fate, wasn't credible.
Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Saturday on CNN's "State of the Union" that he believed Prince Mohammed, the heir-apparent of the world's largest oil exporter, was behind the killing.
The crown prince has "now crossed a line and there has to be a punishment and a price paid for that," Corker said. He also urged Turkey to turn over purported audio recordings of Khashoggi's killing inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The existence of such evidence has been reported in Turkish media in a series of leaks, though Turkish officials have yet to confirm they have recordings.
"The Turks have been talking more to the media than they have us," Corker said of the NATO ally.
California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said on ABC's "This Week" that the killing should be a "relationship-altering" event for the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, which has said it will retaliate against any economic sanctions or other moves against it.
"We ought to suspend military sales, we ought to suspend certain security assistance and we ought to impose sanctions on any of those that were directly involved in this murder," Schiff said.
U.S. President Donald Trump had also talked about possible punishment but said he didn't want to halt a proposed $110 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia because, he maintained, it would harm U.S. manufacturers. He initially said he believed the Saudi account. Speaking late Saturday after a campaign rally in Nevada, Trump said he needs to learn more about the killing and will be working with Congress on the U.S. response. He also said he will talk soon to Prince Mohammed.
Britain, Germany and France issued a joint statement condemning the killing of Khashoggi, saying there is an "urgent need for clarification of exactly what happened."
In a statement Sunday, the governments said attacks on journalists are unacceptable and "of utmost concern to our three nations." They said the "hypotheses" proposed so far in the Saudi investigation need to be backed by facts to be considered credible.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters in Berlin on Sunday that she supports a freeze on arms exports to Saudi Arabia.
Dongshan Township, Oct 22 (AP/UNB) — Rescuers searched through wreckage Monday after one of Taiwan's fastest passenger trains derailed on a curve along a popular weekend route, killing at least 18 people and injuring more than 180 others.
The Puyuma express ran off the tracks late Sunday afternoon as it went around a bend, throwing train cars into a zig-zag pattern with five left lying on their sides. There was no immediate word on the cause. Survivors interviewed by Taiwan's official Central News Agency said the driver had applied emergency brakes multiple times before the train derailed.
Most of the deaths were in the first car, and it was unclear whether other people were trapped in the train, according to a government spokesman, who spoke on the customary condition of anonymity.
Some passengers were crushed to death, Ministry of National Defense spokesman Chen Chung-chi said. "Their train car turned over. They were crushed, so they died right away," Chen said.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen visited the crash site in Yilan County in the island's northeast early Monday morning and said her government had instructed the authorities to work quickly to investigate the cause of the derailment.
The train had been carrying more than 360 passengers from a suburb of Taipei in the north to Taitung, a city on Taiwan's southeast coast.
Earlier, the government put the death toll as high as 22, but the National Fire Agency, citing the Cabinet spokesman's office, later reduced that figure and blamed a miscalculation.
Local television reports said passengers tried to escape through windows and bystanders gathered to help before rescuers arrived.
One of the eight cars tipped at about a 75-degree angle, with its entire right side destroyed.
Fearing people may be trapped beneath the car, firefighters with lights on their hard hats peered underneath as a crane prepared to upend it. The firefighters were joined by soldiers and Buddhist charity workers who gathered on both sides of the tracks.
Soldiers removed bodies to identify them, but nightfall complicated the rescue work.
On a live feed provided by Taiwan's United Daily News, rescuers could be seen carrying what appeared to be a body wrapped in white plastic away from the site.
Searchers walked through an upright car with flashlights. The search-and-rescue work was to continue until early Monday to make sure everyone aboard was accounted for, Premier William Lai told reporters shortly after midnight.
"The underlying cause should be investigated to the maximum extent to avoid anything like this happening in the future," Lai said. "We will make the whole thing transparent."
Ensuring that rail traffic goes back to normal is also a priority, he said.
Most people who were seriously hurt suffered head injuries and one was bleeding internally, said Lin Chih-min, deputy director of Luodong Boai Hospital, where four people were in intensive care. The hospital had treated 65 people total.
The Puyuma was launched in 2013 to handle the rugged topography of Taiwan's east coast. It is distinct from the high-speed rail that runs on the west coast. The Puyuma trains travel up to 150 kilometers (93 miles) per hour, faster than any other in Taiwan except for the high-speed rail.
The train that derailed had its most recent inspection and major maintenance work in 2017, Taiwan Railways Administration Director Lu Chie-shen said at a televised news conference.
Sunday's derailment was at least the third deadly rail accident in Taiwan since 2003.
A tourist train overturned in the southern mountains in 2011 after a large tree fell onto the rails. Five Chinese visitors were killed.
A train on a test run ignored a stop sign and crashed into another train in northeastern Taiwan in 2007. Five people were killed.
And in 2003, a train derailed near a mountain resort, killing 17 people. Investigators blamed brake failure.
The Taiwan Railways Administration bought the Puyama from Japan's Nippon Sharyo in 2011 in a 30 billion yen ($260 million) deal. The eight-car trains are designed to tilt when going around curves and have a maximum speed of 150 kph. The company's announcement at the time said the trains were part of a 1.45 trillion Taiwan dollar ($46 billion) upgrade of the line along Taiwan's east coast.
Japan has been competing assiduously with China, South Korea and European railway providers to win overseas contracts as its already saturated home market shrinks.
Taipei, Oct 20 (AP/UNB) — Thousands of pro-independence demonstrators gathered in Taiwan's capital on Saturday to express their disapproval with China's stance toward their island.
China cut off contact with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen's government shortly after her inauguration in 2016 and has been ratcheting up diplomatic, economic and military pressure on Taiwan in a bid to compel her to agree to Beijing's insistence that the self-governing island democracy is a part of China.
"I want to loudly say no to China," said 43-year-old demonstrator Ping Cheng-wen, who is self-employed. "I just don't agree with China's rhetoric. We have our own sovereignty, and Taiwan is a country."
Another demonstrator at the rally in Taipei, Kuo Jung-min, an 85-year-old Presbyterian church pastor and Hebrew language professor at Taiwan Theological College and Seminary, said pro-unification advocates should move to China if they think it is a better place to live.
"We have to be real Taiwanese, not fake Chinese," Kuo said. "There is no use being Chinese. Those who advocate pro-unification still live in Taiwan. If China is that good, why don't they just move to China?"
In an Oct. 10 National Day address, Tsai called on China not to be a "source of conflict" and pledged to boost Taiwan's defenses against Beijing's military threats. Tsai said the best way to defend Taiwan was to "make it indispensable and irreplaceable to the world," while remaining nonconfrontational in its attitude toward China.
China and Taiwan separated amid civil war in 1949 and China considers the island part of its territory to be taken control of by force if necessary.
Luke Air Force Base, Oct 20 (AP/UNB) — President Donald Trump on Friday called Saudi Arabia's announcement that suspects are in custody in the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi a "good first step" and said he would work with Congress on a U.S. response.
The president spoke to the media at a defense roundtable in Arizona hours after Saudi Arabia claimed that Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor last seen on Oct. 2, was killed in a "fistfight" at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The kingdom also said that 18 suspects were in custody and that intelligence officials had been fired.
Asked by a reporter whether he thought Saudi Arabia's explanation for Khashoggi's death was credible, Trump said, "I do. I do." But he said before he decided what to do next, he wanted to talk to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
"Saudi Arabia has been a great ally, but what happened is unacceptable," Trump said. Regarding the Saudi arrests, he said, "It's a big first step. It's only a first step, but it's a big first step."
On Capitol Hill, lawmakers including Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham expressed skepticism of the Saudi account, which was vastly different than that given by Turkish officials, who had said an "assassination squad" sent by the kingdom had killed and dismembered Khashoggi.
"First we were told Mr. Khashoggi supposedly left the consulate and there was blanket denial of any Saudi involvement," Graham, R-S.C., tweeted Friday. "Now, a fight breaks out and he's killed in the consulate, all without knowledge of Crown Prince."
Khashoggi, a prominent journalist and royal court insider for decades in Saudi Arabia, had written columns critical of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the kingdom's direction while living in self-imposed exile in the U.S. He went to the Saudi consulate to obtain paperwork for his upcoming marriage.
"The Saudi 'explanation' for murdering journalist and Virginia resident Jamal Khashoggi in a consulate_a fistfight gone wrong_is insulting," tweeted Sen. Tim Kaine, the 2016 Democratic vice presidential nominee. "Since the Trump Administration won't stand up against atrocity, Congress must."
Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California said Saudi Arabia's claim that Khashoggi died in a brawl wasn't credible.
"If Khashoggi was fighting inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, he was fighting for his life with people sent to capture or kill him," said Schiff, the ranking member of the House intelligence committee.
"The Kingdom and all involved in this brutal murder must be held accountable, and if the Trump Administration will not take the lead, Congress must," Schiff said.
In a statement Friday night, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the U.S. will closely follow international investigations into Khashoggi's death and will advocate for justice that is "timely, transparent and in accordance with all due process."
Earlier Friday, Sanders said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had spoken to the crown prince and briefed the president and John Bolton, Trump's national security adviser. Trump dispatched Pompeo earlier in the week to Saudi Arabia and Turkey to speak to officials about the case.