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Saudis deny killing journalist but back probe in top-level visit: US

Saudi Arabia stood by denials that the kingdom killed a missing journalist but backed a "thorough" probe, the United States said on Tuesday, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo paid a supportive trip to the Gulf state.

President Donald Trump dispatched the top US diplomat on an urgent mission to Riyadh to defuse a crisis over Jamal Khashoggi, an insider turned critic of the monarchy who was last seen on October 2 when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to sort out marriage paperwork.

Turkish officials say that Khashoggi, who lived in the United States and contributed to The Washington Post, was killed inside the consulate. Pompeo will speak to Turkish leaders in Ankara on Wednesday, the two countries said.

Pompeo met in Riyadh with the top leadership of Saudi Arabia including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who not long ago basked in international praise for his domestic reforms but whose reputation has soured over his mounting crackdown on dissent.

As Pompeo met the crown prince over dinner, Trump tweeted that he had telephoned and that the 33-year-old heir apparent "totally denied any knowledge of what took place in their Turkish consulate".

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