President Donald Trump has suggested “rogue killers” may be responsible for whatever happened to missing Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
Mr Trump told reporters as he departed the White House en route to Florida that he spoke by phone with Saudi Arabia’s King and that “The King firmly denied any knowledge” of the disappearance.
Mr Trump said he did not “want to get” into King Salman’s mind, but said: “It sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers.”
He added: “We’re going to try getting to the bottom of it very soon, but his was a flat denial.”
Mr Trump’s language was strikingly similar to the language he has used to describe Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denials of election meddling.
Turkish officials say they fear a Saudi hit team killed Mr Khashoggi, who has been missing for nearly two weeks.
Mr Khashoggi has not been seen since entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul amid speculation he may have been killed.
The US and Saudis are close allies.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s foreign ministry has said the consulate at the centre of the mystery was due to be examined by Saudi and Turkish officials.