Saudi Prosecutor Seeks Death Penalty in Khashoggi Case

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will emphasize the need for accountability and credibility in the investigation of Mr. Khashoggi's death during a visit next week to the Middle East, including to Riyadh, the official said.

Saudi Arabia's attorney general sought the death penalty for five of 11 defendants charged with the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi as their trial opened in Riyadh on Thursday.

The trip will include stops in eight countries, including Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, where Pompeo will discuss the "importance of a united Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in standing against" Iran, according to a State Department statement.

A key stop will be in Riyadh, whose relations with the USA have been strained by the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents in Istanbul past year, which U.S. intelligence believes was directed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman despite his denials.

The top US diplomat will also travel to Cairo, the capital city of Egypt, where he will meet with Egyptian leaders to discuss Iran, Palestinian-Israeli issue, counter-terrorism, as well as economic and energy cooperation, according to the statement.

After initially offering several contradictory statements, Saudi Arabia admitted that Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate. The comments from the United Nations official came a day after the high-profile trial of the 11 suspects charged with Khashoggi's murder opened in Saudi capital, Riyadh, on Thursday.

Khashoggi, a journalist with The Washington Post, was murdered on Saudi consular premises in Istanbul. The Khashoggi murder rattled the world at a time when Saudi Arabia and its de facto leader, Prince Mohammed, were pushing an aggressive public relations campaign to rebrand the kingdom as a modern state.

A spokeswoman for the UN's top human rights official, Michelle Bachelet, said that the trial in Riyadh does not meet the requirements of an independent and global enquiry.

Mr. Pompeo will also visit Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait as part of his January 8 to January 15 trip, the State Department said in a statement.

He said there was no timeline for the withdraw and that it would be "heavily coordinated" with USA allies in the region so as not to let up pressure on Isis, or leave a vacuum in areas of northern and southern Syria where USA troops have been operating.

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