Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met Monday with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, despite the ongoing outrage over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
State television in Saudi Arabia said Mnuchin and bin Salman met at 2 p.m. in the kingdom’s capital, Riyadh.
Saudi’s foreign ministry, in a tweet, said that bin Salman, during the meeting, “stresses the importance of Saudi-US strategic partnership, where it holds an important role in the future in line with the Kingdom’s #Vision2030.” Vision2030 is the kingdom’s long-range development program.
Mnuchin had announced Thursday that he would not be attending the Future Investment Inititative conference this week in Saudi Arabia. He had been under pressure to cancel his plans to attend in light of Khashoggi’s slaying.
But the secretary said Sunday he would visit Riyadh as previously planned for separate talks on fighting terrorism funding and Iran. ”I did not think it was appropriate to go and speak at this conference but we continue to have important issues with Saudi and that is why I am going there,” Mnuchin said
Treasury spokesman Tony Sayegh reiterated that line in a tweet after news of Mnuchin’s visit with bin Salman broke. He said the secretary was in Saudi Arabia to visit the country’s Terrorist Financing Targeting Center “and having meetings in preparations for sanctions” on Iran.
Khashoggi, a 59-year-old Washington Post contributor who was an outspoken critic of the Saudi government, visited the consulate in Turkey on Oct. 2, to get a document that he required in order to be able to get married the following day in Turkey.
He was never seen alive in public again.
Turkish security officials said they believed Khashoggi was killed soon after entering the consultate by a team that included more than a dozen Saudi agents and then dismembered him with a saw.
Saudi officials claimed for more than two weeks that they were not responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance.
But over this past weekend, they claimed he had been killed after a fistfight
But Treht in the consulate.
– Additional reporting by Jacob Pramuk of CNBC