The United States received a payment of $100 million from Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, the same day Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Riyadh to discuss the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a State Department official confirmed Wednesday amid global calls for answers in the case.
The timing of the transfer, first reported by the New York Times, raised questions about a potential payoff as Riyadh seeks to manage the blowback over allegations that Saudi agents were responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance.
Western diplomats suspect that the kingdom will also compensate Turkey for its willingness to launch a joint investigation on Khashoggi’s disappearance – a payback that could come in the form of large-scale debt relief, strategic buyouts or other arrangements that boost Turkey’s ailing economy.
Khashoggi’s disappearance has hurt the reputation of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, whose close relationship with President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, has put him at the center of the administration’s Middle East policy.
When asked if he had learned any details about Khashoggi’s disappearance, Pompeo told reporters that “I don’t want to talk about any of the facts; they didn’t want to, either, in that they want to have the opportunity to complete this investigation in a thorough way.”