France contradicts Erdoğan on Khashoggi tapes

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French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. AFP PHOTOS

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Monday said that France was not in possession of recordings related to the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi as far as he was aware, contradicting remarks by Turkey’s president, Reuters reported.

Khashoggi, a critic of de facto Saudi ruler Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed in Saudi Arabia’s İstanbul Consulate General last month in a hit that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan says was ordered at the “highest levels” of the Saudi government.

Erdoğan on Saturday said that France, Germany and Britain had been handed the tapes, but in an interview on France 2, Le Drian said this was not the case, as far as he knew.

Asked if that meant Erdogan was lying, Le Drian said, “It means he has a political game to play in these circumstances.”

Khashoggi’s murder provoked international outrage but little concrete action by world powers against Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter and a supporter of Washington’s plans to contain Iranian influence across the Middle East.

When asked on a visit to Paris whether Canadian intelligence had heard the Turkish recordings, Trudeau said “yes” although he added that had not heard them personally.

“Canada’s intelligence agencies have been working very closely on this issue with Turkish intelligence, and Canada has been fully briefed on what Turkey had to share,” Trudeau told a news conference.

He also added he was discussing with allies what next steps should be taken.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesperson Steffen Seibert on Monday confirmed that there has been an exchange of intelligence between Turkey and Germany over Khashoggi case, but he declined to give any further details, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

US President Donald Trump and Erdoğan have discussed how to respond to the killing last month of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a White House official said on Sunday.

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