US President Donald Trump vows to inflict 'severe punishment' on Saudi Arabia if found responsible for journalist’s murder

US President Donald Trump has vowed to inflict "severe punishment" on Saudi Arabia if it is found responsible for the murder of a Washington Post journalist.

Jamal Khashoggi disappeared 11 days after entering Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, the BBC reports.

The US President today said there would be "severe punishment", but ruled out the possibility of enforcing sanctions which could rule out hundreds of billions worth of arms sales.

"I actually think we'd be punishing ourselves if we did that," Mr Trump said.

"There are other things we can do that are very, very powerful, very strong, and we'll do that. Now, as of this moment, nobody knows what happened - as of this moment.

"We're looking into it very seriously - Turkey is looking into it at a very high level, at the highest level, and so is Saudi Arabia."

Mr Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in order to obtain papers for his wedding - his fiancee waiting outside - but was not seen leaving the building.

The Saudi Interior Minister dismissed claims Khashoggi's body was dismembered as "lies".

Turkish police have been barred from searching the Saudi consulate.