In either late 2017 or early 2018, murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi met with Prince Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador to the United States and younger brother of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, while at Saudi Arabia's embassy in Washington, several people with knowledge of the meeting told NBC News on Monday.
Khashoggi was at the embassy to take care of a routine matter, and after he was recognized by officials, they called the ambassador's office, and he was invited up to meet with him, two friends of Khashoggi's said. It was a friendly meeting, he told them, which lasted about 30 minutes. The embassy confirmed the meeting happened, but it's not clear what they discussed.
Saudi Arabia had been pushing for Khashoggi to return; the journalist was critical of some of the government's decisions, and had left to live in the United States. Khashoggi's friends said he had not only been contacted by Prince Khalid but also one of the crown prince's top aides, Saud al-Qahtani, about a high-ranking job in the royal court, but Khashoggi was wary of the overtures, afraid he was being tricked and would be punished upon his return to Saudi Arabia. Four people with knowledge of how Saudi intelligence operates told NBC News that for years, the plan has been to negotiate with dissidents in an attempt to get them back to the kingdom.
Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, with Saudi Arabia only admitting he was dead on Friday, after Turkish officials said for weeks he had been murdered within hours of his arrival at the consulate. Saudi Arabia claims he was killed in a fight, and Qahtani has been fired for his role in the "rogue operation." After Khashoggi was reported missing, Prince Khalid went back to Saudi Arabia, and has yet to return to the U.S.