Middle East

Khashoggi case: Trump and Erdogan agree ‘all aspects’ must be uncovered

The two leaders discussed bilateral ties, ongoing legal cases in the US and developments in Syria (Reuters)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his US counterpart Donald Trump agreed in a phone call on Friday that all aspects of the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi should be uncovered, the Turkish presidency said.

The two leaders also discussed bilateral ties, ongoing legal cases in the United States and developments in Syria, the president's office said, adding that they had discussed the rapid completion of a roadmap in Syria's Manbij.

Erdogan also conveyed to Trump Turkey's expectation that the United States end its support for the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, an issue that has long infuriated Ankara and strained ties between the NATO allies.

Meanwhile, the US Justice Department denied that it was planning an extradition deal for US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen designed to persuade Erdogan to ease off on the Khashoggi probe.

Gulen's extradition has been a longstanding sticking point between Washington and Ankara, with Turkey repeatedly demanding that its US ally send the cleric back to face trial for alleged crimes.

Erdogan blames Gulen, a former political ally who lives in self-imposed exile in the US state of Pennsylvania, for a 2016 coup attempt in Turkey. Gulen has repeatedly denied being involved in the coup.

NBC News had reported on Thursday that Trump's administration asked federal law enforcement agencies to examine legal ways it could remove Gulen from the country.


Turkey to use intercepted Saudi comms to demolish Khashoggi cover-up

The Trump administration's requests were greeted with incredulity and anger by officials, NBC News reported.

"At first there were eye rolls, but once they realised it was a serious request, the career guys were furious," said an official.

The White House reportedly requested that the Justice Department and the FBI reopen Turkey's extradition request for Gulen and asked US Homeland Security to examine his legal status in the country, among other requests.

The Trump administration specifically requested information about Gulen's residency status in the US, where he has lived since the 1990s, NBC News reported.

In a statement on Friday, Justice Department spokeswoman Nicole Navas Oxman denied the NBC report, saying the department "has not been involved in nor aware of any discussions" connecting an extradition of Gulen and the death of Khashoggi.

The denial was unusual for the Justice Department, which typically does not comment on matters pertaining to potential cases of extradition.

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