U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday that Saudi Arabia has strongly denied any knowledge of the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as President Donald Trump refused to condemn the country before the fact is found out.
In a statement issued by the State Department, Pompeo said he had met with the Saudi king, the crown prince and the foreign minister during his stay in Saudi Arabia Tuesday "to determine what happened to Khashoggi."
"We had direct and candid conversations," he said, adding that the Saudi leadership "strongly denied any knowledge of what took place in their consulate in Istanbul."
"My assessment from these meetings is that there is serious commitment to determine all the facts and ensure accountability," he said.
Pompeo said Trump had called Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who "conveyed that a serious and credible investigation is already underway."
The crown prince "pledged that the work of the Saudi public prosecutor will produce a full and complete conclusion with full transparency for the world to see," Pompeo said.
Trump had asked Pompeo to also travel to Turkey to meet with senior leaders, the U.S. secretary of state added.
"We will remain in close contact with Saudi and Turkish authorities as they complete this process and ultimately announce their findings," said Pompeo.
The case of Khashoggi, a journalist and columnist for The Washington Post, has become a major source of tension between Saudi Arabia and the West.
Khashoggi has been missing since he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Unconfirmed reports said that Khashoggi was likely killed inside the compound, a claim denied by Saudi officials as "baseless."
Turkey on Friday freed the long detained U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson. He later in the day left Turkey for Germany and the United States. On Saturday, he arrived at the White House, where Trump met him.
His release has removed a major irritant in Ankara-Washington ties, as the United States has punished Turkey in August by imposing sanctions on two Turkish ministers and doubling tariffs on aluminum and steel imports from Turkey.
Turkey then retaliated by raising tariffs on U.S. imports and boycotting U.S.-made electronics, sparking one of the worst diplomatic rows between the NATO allies.
However, Trump on Monday denied the possibility of relaxing sanctions against Turkey over the release of Brunson, saying "that was not part of the deal."
"We had no deal with Turkey. We don't make deal -- any deals for hostages or prisoners," he said.