Prince Turki al-Faisal, a Saudi diplomat and former chief of the country's intelligence, said on Saturday that the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate last month would not undermine the status of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
In an interview with AP, the 73-year-old al-Faisal described the murder as "an unacceptable incident" that his country will "have to bear", maintaining Riyadh's narrative that the royal family and the crown prince did not have knowledge of the killing.
His statement came as Mohammed bin Salman is touring the Middle East region and is slated to attend the G20 summit in Argentina next week.
"Whether the leaders in that summit warmly engage with the crown prince or not, I think all of them recognize that the kingdom as a country and King Salman and the crown prince are people that they have to deal with," al-Faisal stressed.
Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi went missing after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. After weeks of denials, Riyadh acknowledged that the US-based Washington Post contributor had been killed inside the diplomatic mission in a "rogue operation".
Twenty-one individuals, among them senior military officials, have been arrested on suspicion of carrying out and ordering the murder. Five suspects are facing the death penalty if they are found guilty.
Riyadh repeatedly insisted that the royal, who is to succeed his father, King Salman, was not implicated. However, Turkish media suggested that the CIA had evidence proving that bin Salman had ordered the killing. This echoed a recent report in the Washington Post, which says that the CIA is pointing the finger at the crown prince.
However, Donald Trump said on Thursday that the CIA "did not conclude" that he ordered the murder.
Amid global outcry, reports surfaced that members of the royal family were seeking to replace the crown prince in the line of succession with Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, a 76-year-old brother of King Salman. However, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir said that calls on the crown prince to be removed were a "red line."