France contradicts Turkey’s Erdoğan on Khashoggi tapes

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.

When questioned on France 2 television on Monday, Le Drian said that Turkey has “not to my knowledge” given the French government any such recordings, and suggested the Turks were playing games. “If the Turkish president has information to give to us, he must give it to us,” Le Drian said.

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

Turkish government slammed Le Drian’s statement as “unacceptable” on Monday. “We find it unacceptable that he accused President Erdoğan of ‘playing political games,'” communications director for 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.”

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also responded even more sharply, saying that his French counterpart’s accusations amounted to “impertinence.” “It does not comport with the seriousness of a foreign minister,” he said, accusing Le Drian of “exceeding his authority.”

The French foreign ministry later spoke of a “misunderstanding,” adding that information provided by Turkey had not allowed for the “full truth” to come out, including who might be responsible for the crime. “The full truth that we care about isn’t just linked to the Turkish recordings … the full truth is also to be sought in Riyadh and in exchanges with our other partners,” the ministry said.

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 the 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 Khashoggi, a White House official said on Sunday. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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