US President Donald Trump said he's immediately sending secretary of state Michael Pompeo to Saudi Arabia to meet with King Salman bin Abdulaziz and suggested that "rogue killers" might be behind the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey.
He also pointed out that bin Salman would not have dared to do so without if he did not have such a close relationship with US President Donald Trump and his Senior Advisor, Jared Kushner.
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. Turkish authorities said they believed that 15 Saudi men who arrived in Istanbul on October 2 were connected to the case.
He also said Mr Pompeo would be leaving for Saudi Arabia in the next hour, adding that "we're going to leave nothing uncovered". "The King has ordered the public prosecutor to open an internal investigation into the Khashoggi matter based on the info from the joint team in Istanbul", said the official. Saudi Arabia has called such allegations "baseless" but has not proved the writer ever left the consulate.
Mr Khashoggi was once an adviser to the Saudi royal family but fell out of favour with the Saudi government and went into self-imposed exile.
His family called for an independent, worldwide commission to investigate his disappearance.
"The kingdom affirms its total rejection of any threats and attempts to undermine it, whether by threatening to impose economic sanctions, using political pressures or repeating false accusations", said the statement, carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency.More news: Case of mysterious paralyzing illness reported in Kentucky, Ohio
Trump earlier had said Saudi Arabia could face "severe punishment" if it was proven it was involved in Khashoggi's disappearance.
Saudia Arabia is allegedly lining up a takeover bid for Manchester United as the kingdom faces worldwide scrutiny over the disappearance of a Saudi journalist.
France, Germany and Britain on Sunday have expressed concerns over the case, calling for "a credible investigation" into the incident.
Crown Prince Mohammad - second in command to King Salman - wants to make his mark in the world of football and views Glazer-owned Manchester United as the flawless acquisition, The Sun reported today, citing 'well-placed sources'.
Manchester United did not comment on Monday night about reports that Saudi Arabia is interested in buying the club. "He may not", Trump said during a visit to Alabama. He was undertaking a flurry of engagements with top officials in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.
Saudi Arabia has pledged to retaliate economically for any United States punitive action.
In protest of Khashoggi's disappearance, several USA businesses leaders have pulled out of next week's Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, dubbed "Davos in the Desert", after the annual meeting of world economic interests in Switzerland.