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Trump did not mention Khashoggi during a photo op with Salman before their meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in the Japanese city of Osaka, and ignored questions from reporters.

"It's an honor to be with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. a man who has really done things in the last five years in terms of opening up Saudi Arabia", Trump said. Some lawmakers have called on Trump to disavow Saudi leadership since Khashoggi's death previous year.

But "nobody has directly pointed a finger" at Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the US president added when asked about whether he raised the issue during a meeting with the royal.

Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen, lived outside the country in self-imposed exile since 2017 after angering the royal family over critical columns he wrote.

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Calling the Saudi Royal "a friend of mine" Trump also reiterated that he "appreciates" Riyadh's purchases of USA military equipment worth some $110 billion - all amid massive Congressional scrutiny of Trump's relations with the House of Saud and support of the ongoing war in Yemen. Mr. Trump has long praised bin Salman, and on Friday, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Mr. Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser "met often" with bin Salman.

"They've been a terrific ally". They are creating millions of jobs in this country.

"They've taken it very seriously", the USA leader insisted, referring to a trial that has been criticised for secrecy and is being conducted largely behind closed doors with even the names of the suspects unknown.

Trump was flanked on the other side by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has said that the killing was ordered at the highest level of the Saudi government and attacked Washington for its "silence" over Khashoggi's death.

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