Ankara, Oct 26: Turkey has ramped up pressure on Saudi Arabia over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, demanding Riyadh reveal who gave the order to kill the journalist in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.
“If you are determined to lift this shroud of mystery, then this is the key point of our collaboration,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech on Friday in the capital Ankara.
Addressing provincial members of his Justice and Development Party (AK Party), the president said Turkish authorities have gathered more evidence, which will be made public “when the time comes”.
He added that he suspected Khashoggi’s killer is among the 18 men arrested by Saudi Arabia in connection to the case and called on the kingdom’s authorities to identify the “local collaborator” whom they say disposed of the journalist’s body.
“These 18 people know who killed Khashoggi. There is no other explanation for this. Because the perpetrator is among them. If the perpetrator is not among them, then who is the local collaborator?” Erdogan asked.
“You have to announce it,” he added.
Erdogan branded the kingdom’s various explanations for Khashoggi’s disappearance and death as “childish statements do not go hand in hand with statesmanship or seriousness of a state”.
He also said the Saudi public prosecutor will arrive in Istanbul on Sunday and meet Turkish investigators.
Khashoggi, 59, a Washington Post columnist and critic of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) vanished after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
On October 20, after more than two weeks of denials, the kingdom finally confirmed Khashoggi’s death on October 2, claiming he had died in a fistfight.
In his first major speech on the case earlier this week, Erdogan called Khashoggi “the victim of a vicious murder” and called for an independent international probe into the incident. He also referred to Saudi King Salman respectfully but did not refer directly to
According to Mehmet Celik, a journalist from the pro-government English language newspaper Daily Sabah, Erdogan appeared to harden his tone with his latest remarks.
“I think the [tone] and the language he used was significant in today’s speech; he was definitely harsher,” Celik told Al Jazeera.
“He said the explanations made so far by Saudi Arabia were ‘childish’ and he demanded more concrete and consistent answers,” added Celik.
Sinan Ciddi, executive director at the Institute of Turkish Studies at Georgetown University, told Al Jazeera Erdogan is attempting to not only raise Turkey’s profile vis-a-vis Saudi Arabia but also to recast Ankara’s deteriorating relations with its international allies.
“He’s showing partners that there might be problems in Turkey, but that at least Turkey is not Saudi Arabia.”
Ciddi said Erdogan has adopted a more careful approach compared with how he has handled other foreign policy issues in the past.
“Ahead of the Turkish presidential elections, Erdogan took a very aggressive stance versus Europe – and that backfired for him,” Ciddi said, referring to Turkey’s strained relations with major European countries.
“This time he has been more cautious.
“For example, he has said that the Turks have more evidence but hasn’t put the actual evidence out there yet. That would really annoy the Saudis, so he hasn’t done that.”
As a result of Erdogan’s handling, Ciddi noted, Turkey appears to have emerged stronger from the crisis and is being taken more seriously at the international level.
“This is really a gift that landed in his lap.”
Erdogan’s speech came a day after several vigils were held around the world to commemorate the slain journalist.
Members of the Jamal Khashoggi Friends Association gathered outside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and said they would do anything to uncover the truth behind the killing.
“On this occasion, and from this place where the spirit of Jamal has been lost, we clearly state that we will not accept compromises in the case of his murder, and that we will not keep silent on any attempt to evade any criminal from accountability and punishment,” the group said.
Time for talks over, world must act now: PM
New Delhi, Feb 18: The Pulwama attack which claimed the lives of 49 CRPF men shows that the time to hold talks on “terrorism” is over and there is an urgent need to unite against such elements, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday.
The Prime Minister, who was holding talks with Argentina President Mauricio Macri, said dithering to take action against militants and their supporters will be like encouraging militancy.
“Brutal attack in Pulwama proves that time for talks have passed. Now the entire world needs to unite against ‘terrorism’ and its supporters and take strong actions,” PM said.
President of Argentina Mauricio Macri said, “I would like to convey my condolences to the victims of the cruel attack (Pulwama) perpetrated just a few days ago. We condemn every kind of terrorist attack. I am truly pleased to be able to working together to fight this scourge on mankind.”
Cross LoC trade, bus service suspended
Srinagar, Feb 18: The cross-LoC trade between India and Pakistan via Poonch has been suspended in backdrop of the Pulwama suicide attack in which 49 CRPF personnel were killed last Thursday.
“Since the incident, no truck was allowed to cross the Line of control hence affecting the trade,” an official said.
He added that Poonch-Rawalakot cross-LoC bus service too has been suspended till further orders.
President, Cross LoC trade Union, Pawan Anand told The Kashmir Monitor that 60 trucks are stranded at trade centre (Chakan Da Bagh).
“We got orders to suspend the trade,” he said.
Pawan said that at least they have endured more than 4 crore of losses due to the trade suspension.
He added that most of the trucks are loaded with grapes, tomato, banana, tamarind and ser (zeera).
Besides Poonch, the cross-LoC trade also takes place through Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road in Uri.
However, DC Baramulla, Nasir Ahmad Naqash, confirmed that Uri has not received any order for trade suspension yet.
MBS conferred Nishan-e-Pakistan: Saudi vows to ‘de-escalate’ India-Pakistan tension
Islamabad, Feb 18: Saudi Arabia vowed to “de-escalate” rising tensions between Pakistan and India during a high-profile summit in Islamabad Monday as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman prepares to travel from Islamabad to New Delhi.
The kingdom’s foreign minister spoke at a press conference in Islamabad as Pakistan recalled its envoy from Delhi for “consultations”, the latest development in a fresh diplomatic crisis between the nuclear-armed neighbors.
Delhi has vowed to retaliate after a suicide blast which killed over 40 Indian paramilitaries in Kashmir on Thursday, the deadliest attack in Kashmir in recent decade.
The attack has sparked widespread calls in India for action against Pakistan.
“Our objective is to try to de-escalate tensions between the two countries, neighboring countries, and to see if there is a path forward to resolving those differences peacefully,” said Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir.
The pledge came as the crown prince, widely known as “MBS”, prepared to head for India later Monday, at the conclusion of his two-day visit to Pakistan.
India is garnering diplomatic support after the attack and has vowed to “isolate” Pakistan diplomatically in the international community, saying it has “incontrovertible evidence” of Islamabad’s role.
Pakistan has rejected the allegations.
Meanwhile, Pakistan President Arif Alvi on Monday conferred the country’s highest civil award — Nishan-e-Pakistan — on Saudi Crown Prince.
Mohammad bin Salman was honoured due to his “outstanding support for reinvigorating Pak-Saudi bilateral relationship”, Dawn reported.
Following the Pakistan president’s speech, the Saudi crown prince, as per Dawn, addressed the audience. “I was honoured to meet the president of Pakistan. I thank you for honouring me with Pakistan’s highest award.
“The brotherly relationship between the kingdom and Pakistan focus on the principle of Islamic solidarity. It is a model to be emulated by other nations. Our [countries’ relationship] go back 67 years that witnessed continuous development that rendered itself beneficial for both countries.
“The founding fathers for both countries established these relations on the principles of truthfulness, common understanding and mutual respect that go back to the first days of the establishment of Pakistan, post-World War 2.
“Our Pakistani brothers participated truthfully and effectively in the great development project that Saudi Arabia witnessed, especially the enlargement project of Masjid-e-Haram and Masjid-e-Nabwi. More than 2 million Pakistanis are working in Saudi Arabia and are contributing to the development of both the countries.
“I wish all the best to the president and the prime minister in the service of this country and its people.”
At the conclusion of the ceremony, the Saudi crown prince said his goodbyes to the Pakistan president and members of the federal cabinet before leaving for Nur Khan Airbase. As was the case when he had arrived, Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan personally drove the car carrying the Saudi crown prince.
On Sunday, MBS signed $20 billion in investment deals with cash-strapped Islamabad and vowed to free thousands of Pakistani prisoners in Saudi custody.