Government to boycott Saudi summit over Khashoggi killing: Payne

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An argument between Khashoggi and men who met him inside the consulate on October 2 escalated into "a fistfight that led to his death", the prosecutor said.

The Saudi government acknowledged early Saturday that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed while visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, saying he died during a fist fight.

The statement said that 18 Saudi citizens had been arrested and that two senior officials had been sacked.

"We will continue to closely follow the worldwide investigations into this tragic incident and advocate for justice that is timely, transparent and in accordance with all due process", the White House Press Secretary said.

The prayer leader at Mecca's Grand Mosque called Friday for "unity" in the face of "fabrications" against Saudi Arabia, over two weeks after a dissident journalist's disappearance sparked a diplomatic crisis.

Democratic US Senator Richard Blumenthal told CNN the Saudi explanation "absolutely defies credibility" and called for an worldwide investigation of Khashoggi's death.

Oct 8: Turkish authorities summon the Saudi ambassador and ask for proof that Mr Khashoggi left the consulate.

Turkey said it had not shared with any country audio recordings purportedly documenting Khashoggi's murder, dismissing reports it had passed them to the United States.

Kushner does have close ties to the Saudis and its crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, but there has been no evidence that he has any involvement with the suspected murder of Khashoggi. These Turkish sources said an audio recording existed, though none has been made public or provided to US authorities.

On Friday evening, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham - a key ally of President Donald Trump - posted a tweet registering his skepticism of the Saudi government's latest account of what happened to Khashoggi.

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There has been no indication Mr Khashoggi had immediate plans to return to the kingdom.

"Nothing has been cleared up yet [on Khashoggi's killing], of course we demand that they be cleared up", Merkel said on Saturday, during a party conference in eastern Germany. The suspects then attempted to "conceal an cover" what happened, the statement read.

Saudi Arabia's state-run news agency said Saturday that "the kingdom expresses its deep regret" over the slaying of Khashoggi.

According to Reuters, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte had questions too: "A lot still remains uncertain", he told reporters.

On Twitter, where Qahtani had launched vitriolic attacks against those he saw as the kingdom's enemies, he thanked the Saudi government for the opportunity to serve.

"I will remain a loyal servant to my country for all times", he wrote.

"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.

'We will continue to follow global investigations into this tragic incident and advocate for justice that is timely, transparent and in accordance with all due process.

The New York Times previously said it had spoken to three people with knowledge of the Saudi plans relating to General Assiri, who had earlier served as the spokesman for the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen before being promoted to his current job in intelligence.

The UK Foreign Office described it as "a bad act" and said the people behind the killing "must be held to account".