Saudi King Salman and his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received family members of murdered Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi in Riyadh, state news agency SPA reported on Tuesday.
Khashoggi, a former regime insider who last year went into self-imposed exile, was a prominent critic of the crown prince and the 33-year-old royal’s crackdown on dissent.
Earlier, the Saudi cabinet promised to hold to account those who were responsible for Khashoggi’s death and those who “failed in their duties” in the case that has strained ties between Riyadh and the West.
The absolute monarchy is a longtime U.S. ally and considered a bulwark against Iran, but the crisis over Khashoggi’s death has helped crystallize growing unease about the crown prince, the country’s de facto ruler.
Earlier Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said evidence showed Khashoggi’s killing was “brutal” and “premeditated,” contradicting Saudi Arabia’s most recent version of events.
Erdogan’s address coincided with the opening of the Future Investment Initiative, a glittering gathering under the auspices of the crown prince that is aimed at showcasing oil-rich Saudi Arabia as a moderate high-tech mecca. In recent days, a slew of businesses leaders and media companies announced that they were pulling out of the Riyadh meeting dubbed “Davos in the Desert.”
Bin Salman received a standing ovation when he made an unannounced stop at the conference, and appeared at an afternoon panel next to Jordan’s King Abdullah II, but made no public remarks.