18:56 GMT +317 December 2018
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    A poster of missing Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi, on a barrier that blocks the road leading to the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul.

    Ex-US Energy Secretary Stops Advising on Saudi Megacity Due to Missing Khashoggi

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    Former US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said Wednesday he has suspended his advisory role on Saudi Arabia's planned megacity project NEOM until more is known about the disappeared journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Reuters reported.

    In 2017, Saudi Arabia unveiled plans to build a $500 billion innovative megacity called NEOM on Egypt’s territory in southern Sinai Peninsula. The project is expected to be located along the Red Sea shore and will be linked with  both Saudi Arabia and Jordan. The city’s economy is set to focus on water, energy, food and biotechnology industries as well as on tourism, according to media reports.

    According to Reuters, Ernest Moniz, who served under US President Barack Obama, was one of 18 people advising the multibillion NEOM project. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman said last week the NEOM business zone will be built two to three towns each year starting in 2020 and be fully completed by 2025.

    Last week, the Turkish-Arab Media Association reported that Khashoggi went missing in Turkey. His fiancee said the journalist was invited to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents needed for his upcoming marriage. The fiancee stayed outside waiting for Khashoggi for several hours before she was told by one of the Consulate's employees that her fiance had already left and has not been seen by her ever since.

    WATCH: Media Release Footage of Saudis Reportedly Linked to Khashoggi Abduction

    US media reports have said that Turkish investigators believe the journalist was murdered inside the Saudi Consulate. Saudi Arabia has denied the allegation.

    Earlier in the day, US President Donald Trump said he has been in contact with senior Saudi government officials about the recent disappearance of Washington Post contributor in Istanbul. US State Secretary Mike Pompeo called Mnday on Riyadh to support a thorough investigation into the disappearance of the journalist.

    Related:

    US State Department Clueless About Saudi Journalist Khashoggi's Fate
    Trump Says Has Spoken to Saudi Officials About Disappeared Journalist Khashoggi
    US Intel Reportedly Knew of Saudi Plan to 'Lure & Capture' Now-Missing Khashoggi
    Media Release Footage of Saudis Reportedly Linked to Khashoggi Abduction (VIDEO)
    Tags:
    investigation, journalist, disappearance, suspension, advisory role, NEOM, Ernest Moniz, Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi Arabia, United States
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