Foreign Titbits: Trump calls Khashoggi murder'worst cover-up in history'
Khashoggi Jamal

A senior US official has held talks with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince in Riyadh, despite growing concern over the Saudis’ role in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met Mohammed bin Salman on Monday.

Turkish officials say Mr. Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul after a visit on 2 October.

Riyadh has given conflicting accounts of Mr. Khashoggi’s fate. It now blames a “rogue operation” for the “murder”.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he will reveal the “naked truth” of the matter in parliament on Tuesday.

Saudi officials initially said Mr. Khashoggi had left the consulate on the same day he visited it.

Last Friday they admitted for the first time he was dead but said he had been killed in a “fist fight”.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia acknowledged Mr. Khashoggi had been murdered, but said the Saudi leadership had not been aware of the “rogue operation”.

“We are determined to find out all the facts and we are determined to punish those who are responsible for this murder,” Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told Fox News.

“The individuals who did this did this outside the scope of their authority,” he added. “There obviously was a tremendous mistake made, and what compounded the mistake was the attempt to try to cover up.”

He said that Saudi Arabia did not know where the body was.

The Saudis say they have arrested 18 people, sacked two aides of Mohammed bin Salman and set up a body, under his leadership, to reform the intelligence agency over the killing.

The meeting in the Saudi capital was held behind closed doors.

A Treasury Department spokesman said Mr. Mnuchin and the crown prince had discussed economic and counter terrorism issues, and Mr. Khashoggis’ death.

Saudi state media reported that they had stressed “the importance of the Saudi-US strategic partnership”.

The talks were held despite the fact that Mr. Mnuchin – like a number of other Western politicians and businessmen – had pulled out of a major investment forum being held in the Saudi capital this week.

Many world leaders have condemned the murdered and demanded a full investigation.

Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would halt arms exports to Saudi Arabia if the killing is not “cleared up”, while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau threatened to cancel a multi-billion-dollar defence contract.

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But several of Saudi Arabia’s regional allies – including Kuwait and Egypt – have come out in its support.
President Donald Trump’s latest comments suggest the US is yet to decide on its response.


Bible Museum says five of its Dead Sea Scrolls are fake

A US Bible museum has removed fragments of what it believed were part of the Dead Sea Scrolls from display, after tests suggested they were forgeries.

The Museum of the Bible, in Washington DC, sent five of its 16 fragments for analysis in Germany.

But results showed “characteristics inconsistent with ancient origin”, the museum said.

Costing $500m (£386m), the museum was opened by Evangelical Christian and billionaire Steve Green in 2017.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a set of ancient manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible.

The first of the scrolls were found in caves in Qumran on the western shore of the Dead Sea in 1947. They were reportedly first discovered by a young Bedouin shepherd searching for lost sheep.

The tests were ordered after biblical scholars who examined 13 of the museum’s previously unstudied fragments said there was a “high probability” that a number of them were modern forgeries.

The museum’s chief curatorial officer, Jeffrey Kloha, said that he had hoped the “testing would render different results”.

However, he added: “This is an opportunity to educate the public on the importance of verifying the authenticity of rare biblical artefacts, the elaborate testing process undertaken and our commitment to transparency,”