French foreign minister accuses Erdogan of playing ‘games’ over Khashoggi recording

Jean-Yves Le Drian says his country is not in possession of tapes

French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian speaks at the inauguration of a French diplomatic office in Banjul on November 5, 2018.  / AFP / Clare Bargeles
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Two days after Turkey claimed it shared recordings related to the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi with France and other countries, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said his country did not have the purported tapes as far as he was aware.

“[Recep Tayyip Erdogan] has a political game to play in these circumstances,” Mr Le Drian said in an interview on France 2 on Monday, when asked whether the Turkish president was lying about handing over the tapes to the French authorities.

On Saturday, Mr Erdogan said he had also shared the recordings with Saudi Arabia, the US, Germany and the UK, among other countries.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu insisted France had received the recordings and said Mr Le Drian's comments were "impudent".

"Our intelligence shared information with them on October 24, including the voice recordings," Mr Cavusoglu said.

Canada on Monday became the only nation to acknowledge receiving the recording, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying his country " has been fully briefed up on what Turkey had to share".

He said Canada's intelligence agencies had been working "very closely" with Turkish intelligence on Khashoggi's killing.

Canada and Saudi Arabia were embroiled in a diplomatic spat after its ambassador to Riyadh criticised the arrests of Saudi women activists. Saudi Arabia ordered the ambassador to leave the kingdom, froze all new business with Canada and said it would not renew government scholarships for thousands of Saudis studying there.

Turkey has not said how it obtained the recordings but Mr Erdogan’s comments on Saturday were believed to confirm previously unsubstantiated reports that Turkish authorities had audio recordings of what transpired after Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, the last time he was seen alive.

Saudi Arabia has said Khashoggi was murdered in an unauthorised operation.

Six Saudi officials were dismissed over the killing and 18 people were arrested. Turkey claims a 15-member team was sent to kill Khashoggi. Mr Erdogan said it knew who was behind his death and the location of the journalist's remains.

Separately, Simon McDonald, who serves as British Prime Minister Theresa May's special envoy, met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia on Monday, in the first visit of a senior British official to the kingdom since Khashoggi’s murder.

The Saudi state-run news agency said Mr McDonald discussed regional and international developments in the meeting with Prince Mohammed on Monday.

A day earlier, Mr McDonald met King Salman.


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