Khashoggi's Death Was A 'Grave Mistake': Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister has called the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at its Istanbul consulate a "huge and grave mistake", but said Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had not been aware.

Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir spoke to US broadcaster Fox on Sunday and extended condolences to Khashoggi's family.

"This is a terrible mistake. This is a terrible tragedy. Our condolences go out to them. We feel their pain," he said.

"Unfortunately, a huge and grave mistake was made and I assure them that those responsible will be held accountable for this."

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He said the Saudis did not know how Khashoggi, a Saudi national and US resident, had been killed or where his body was.

He also said that Prince Mohammed, de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, was not responsible.

"This was an operation where individuals ended up exceeding the authorities and responsibilities they had," he said.

"They made the mistake when they killed Jamal Khashoggi in the consulate and they tried to cover up for it."

The kingdom first denied his death before admitting it on Saturday amid an international outcry.

The weeks of denial and lack of credible evidence have shaken global confidence in ties with the world's top oil exporter, Western governments say.

US Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin said Saudi Arabia's admission that the Washington Post columnist had been killed in a fistfight was a "good first step but not enough".

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Three major European powers - Germany, Britain and France - pressed Saudi Arabia to provide facts to back up its earlier explanation of a fight.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany would not export arms to Saudi Arabia while the current uncertainty over Khashoggi's fate persisted.

Khashoggi went missing after entering the consulate on October 2 to obtain documents for his upcoming marriage.

After denying any involvement in the 59-year-old's disappearance for two weeks, Saudi Arabia on Saturday said Khashoggi, a critic of the crown prince, had died during a fight in the building.

An hour later, another Saudi official attributed the death to a chokehold.

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"Nothing can justify this killing and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms," Germany, Britain and France said in their joint statement on Sunday.

A senior Saudi government official has laid out a new version that in key respects contradicts previous explanations.

The latest account includes details on how the team of 15 Saudi nationals sent to confront Khashoggi had threatened him with being drugged and kidnapped and killed him in a chokehold when he resisted.

A member of the team then dressed in Khashoggi's clothes to make it appear as if he had left the consulate.

In a speech on Sunday, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he was getting ready to release some information about the Turkish investigation, and would do so at his weekly speech to members of his ruling AK Party in parliament.

Lead photo: AAP