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Turkey slams France FM's 'political games' Khashoggi comments

Jamal Khashoggi was murdered last month. [Getty]

Date of publication: 12 November, 2018

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Turkey has furiously condemned comments by the French foreign minister after he accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of playing a 'political game' over the murder of Saudi journalist Khashoggi.

Turkey on Monday lashed out at "unacceptable" comments by the French foreign minister accusing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of playing a "political game" over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

Erdogan said on Saturday that Turkey had shared recordings linked to the Saudi journalist's murder last month with Riyadh, as well as the US, France, the UK and other allies, without giving details of the tapes' specific content. 

In an interview with France 2 television on Monday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said he "for the moment was not aware" of any information transmitted by Ankara

Asked if the Turkish president was lying, he said: "It means that he has a political game to play in these circumstances."

His comments provoked fury in Ankara.

"We find it unacceptable that he accused President Erdogan of 'playing political games'," the communications director at the Turkish presidency, Fahrettin Altun, told AFP.

"Let us not forget that this case would have been already covered up had it not been for Turkey's determined efforts."

Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor and critic of the Saudi government, was last seen entering the consulate on 2 October to obtain documents for his forthcoming marriage to a Turkish woman.

'France listened to Khashoggi audio'

After repeated denials, Riyadh finally admitted the 59-year-old had been murdered at the mission in a "rogue" operation.

Erdogan has accused the "highest levels" of the Saudi government of ordering the hit, without directly pointing the finger at all-powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

But he has said he does "not believe for a second" that King Salman ordered the crime. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the crown prince in a phone call on Sunday that the US will hold accountable all those involved in the killing.

The murder and the war in Yemen, which has pushed the country to the brink of famine, are two of the main sources of strain in the decades-old alliance between Washington and Riyadh.

Altun said Le Drian's comments about the investigation "do not reflect the facts".

He said Ankara had shared evidence linked to the murder with officials from a large number of countries and that France was "no exception".

"I confirm that evidence pertaining to the Khashoggi murder has also been shared with the relevant agencies of the French government," he said.

A representative of French intelligence listened to the audio recording and detailed information including a transcript on 24 October, he added.

"If there is miscommunication between the French government's various agencies, it is up to the French authorities - not Turkey - to take care of that problem."

Canada 'fully briefed'

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday that his government had been "fully briefed" on recordings provided by Ankara. 

"Canada has been fully briefed up on what Turkey had to share," Trudeau said at a press conference in Paris, where he is attending a peace forum hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron.

Trudeau said he had brief exchanges with Erdogan over the weekend in Paris where world leaders attended commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

"I thanked him for his strength in responding to the Khashoggi situation."

Asked if he has heard the recording himself, he said: "I have not."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said Turkish and German secret services had an "exchange" on the Khashoggi file but declined to elaborate. 

"I can tell you that there was an exchange between secret services on this point," he told a press briefing.

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