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US president Donald Trump says 'rogue killers' may be behind Saudi journalist's disappearance

President Donald Trump said he spoke with King Salman and that he "firmly denied any knowledge" of the journalist's disappearance. Picture by Andrew Harnik/AP

US PRESIDENT Donald Trump has suggested "rogue killers" may be responsible for whatever happened to missing Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

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.

The president said he did not "want to get" into King Salman's mind, but said: "It sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers."

He added: "We're going to try getting to the bottom of it very soon, but his was a flat denial."

Mr Trump's language was strikingly similar to that which he used to describe Russian president Vladimir Putin's denials of election meddling.

Turkish officials say they fear a Saudi hit team killed Mr Khashoggi, who has been missing for nearly two weeks.

Mr Trump had earlier tweeted to say that he had spoken with Salman and that he was sending US secretary of state Mike Pompeo to Riyadh.

Mr Khashoggi has not been seen since entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul amid speculation he may have been killed.

The US and Saudis are close allies.

Meanwhile, Turkey's foreign ministry has said the consulate at the centre of the mystery was due to be examined by Saudi and Turkish officials.

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