UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu did not request a U.N. inquiry into the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi when he met with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday, a U.N. spokesman said, though they did discuss the case.
“They discussed Yemen, Syria, Cyprus, as well as the murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters. On a possible U.N. inquiry into Khashoggi, he added: “We have not received any formal request from the Turkish side.”
Khashoggi, a U.S.-based Washington Post columnist who was a critic of the Saudi government run by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed in October at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
As Cavusoglu left the United Nations after meeting Guterres he was asked if he requested an international investigation. “We discussed all the aspects of this,” he said.
After offering numerous contradictory explanations for Khashoggi’s disappearance, Riyadh said last week he had been killed and his body dismembered when “negotiations” to convince him to return to Saudi Arabia failed. The public prosecutor said it would seek the death penalty for five suspects in the case.
The CIA believes the Saudi prince ordered the killing of Khashoggi, sources familiar with the matter said on Friday, complicating U.S. President Donald Trump’s efforts to preserve ties with a key ally.
Four prominent western rights groups – Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders – last month urged Turkey to ask the United Nations to investigate the disappearance of Khashoggi.
They say a precedent was set for such a move in 2008 when Pakistan asked then U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to establish an international inquiry into the assassination of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
Ban consulted Pakistani officials and members of the U.N. Security Council. He then notified the 15-member council in 2009 of his intention to establish an inquiry and was given informal approval by the body to do so in a letter.
“The Secretary General does not have the authority to do it (an investigation) without a mandate given to him by a legislative body,” U.N. spokesman Dujarric said on Friday, citing as examples the Security Council or the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council.
Dujarric said that if a country made a formal request for an inquiry into Khashoggi’s death “we would obviously have to study the content of that letter.”
Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Grant McCool