By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal
LONDON (AA) - Foreign ministers of the G7 countries and the EU condemned on Tuesday “in the strongest possible terms the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has confirmed took place in its consulate in Istanbul".
“The confirmation of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi’s death is a first step toward full transparency and accountability,” the joint statement from the foreign ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K., the U.S., and the high representative of the European Union said.
“However, the explanations offered leave many questions unanswered,” it added.
The statement followed remarks by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan describing Khashoggi's murder as "premeditated".
Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, had gone missing since entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
After days of denying to know his whereabouts, Saudi Arabia last week claimed Khashoggi died during a fight inside the consulate.
On the day of Khashoggi’s disappearance, 15 other Saudis, including several officials, arrived in Istanbul on two planes and visited the consulate while he was still inside, according to Turkish police sources. All of the identified individuals have since left Turkey.
The EU and G7 countries reiterated the “expectation for a thorough, credible, transparent, and prompt investigation by Saudi Arabia, in full collaboration with the Turkish authorities, and a full and rigorous accounting of the circumstances surrounding Mr. Khashoggi’s death".
“Those responsible for the killing must be held to account,” the statement added.
It added that Saudi Arabia “must put in place measures to ensure something like this can never happen again.”
Offering condolences to Khashoggi's family, the statement added: “The circumstances of Mr. Khashoggi’s death reaffirms the need to protect journalists and freedom of expression around the world.”