Michael R. Pompeo
Secretary of State
King Salman Air Base
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
October 17, 2018
SECRETARY POMPEO: We’re on our way to Turkey, where I’ll meet with President Erdogan this morning, if all goes as planned. Yesterday I had the chance to have a number of meetings, extended meetings, with King Salman and the crown prince, Adel al-Jubeir, the foreign minister. In each of those meetings I stressed the importance of them conducting a complete investigation into the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, and they made a commitment; they said they would do that and they said it would be a thorough, complete, and transparent investigation. We’ll all see the results of that. They made a commitment that they would show the entire world the results of their investigation. They also indicated they would get this done quickly. I don’t know the precise timeline, but they indicated that they understood the importance of getting that done in a timely, rapid fashion so that they could begin to answer important questions.
We also had the chance to talk about lots of other elements of the relationship between our two countries. We have many overlapping interests, places we work together, places where Saudi Arabia and the United States are trying to achieve important things around the world, and we spent time discussing those as well.
QUESTION: Sir, did they tell you what happened to Jamal Khashoggi?
SECRETARY POMPEO: They told me they were going to conduct a thorough, complete, transparent investigation. They made a commitment, too, to hold anyone connected to any wrongdoing that may be found accountable for that, whether they are a senior officer or official. They promised accountability for each of those persons whom they determine as a result of their investigation has – deserves accountability.
QUESTION: Including a member of the royal family?
SECRETARY POMPEO: They made no exceptions to who they would hold accountable. They were just – they were very clear. They understand the importance of this issue. They are determined to get to the bottom of it, and that they will conduct the report, and we’ll all get a chance to see it. They each promised that they would achieve that for us.
QUESTION: And did they say that Mr. Khashoggi is alive or dead?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I don’t want to talk about any of the facts. They didn’t want to either, in that they want to have the opportunity to complete this investigation in a thorough way.
QUESTION: Do you believe the denials?
SECRETARY POMPEO: And I think that’s – I think that’s – I think that’s a reasonable thing to do to give them that opportunity, and then we’ll all get to judge, we’ll all get to evaluate the work that they do.
QUESTION: With the reports coming from Turkey, what gives you the benefit of the doubt of believing them so far right now?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I’m waiting for the investigation to be completed. They promised that they would achieve that, and I’m counting on it, and they gave me their word. And we’ll all get to see if they deliver against that commitment.
QUESTION: Did you talk about repercussions in case the Saudis are found to be involved?
SECRETARY POMPEO: We talked about the importance of completing the investigation.
QUESTION: And what happens if the Saudis are found to be involved, for the U.S.?
SECRETARY POMPEO: We talked about the importance of the investigation, completing it in a timely fashion, and making sure that it was sufficiently transparent that we could evaluate the work that had been done to get to the bottom of it. So that was the purpose of the visit. In that sense it was incredibly successful. We received commitments that they would complete this, and I am counting on them to do that. So thanks, everybody.
QUESTION: Did they tell you something different, though, in private about this?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Have a good morning and we’ll see you all on the other side.