U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has pulled out of an investment conference next week in Saudi Arabia, as Riyadh continues to face questions about its involvement in the disappearance and alleged killing of a U.S.-based Saudi journalist in Turkey.
Mnuchin made the announcement Thursday on Twitter, following numerous Western corporate chiefs who have dropped out of the three-day gathering that starts Tuesday in Riyadh.
As reports from Turkey have mounted alleging Saudi agents tortured, killed and dismembered Jamal Khashoggi two weeks ago inside Riyadh’s consulate in Istanbul, the chief executives announced they will not be attending the Future Investment Initiative conference.
Saudi Arabia has denied killing Khashoggi, a critic of the country’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Khashoggi wrote about Saudi Arabia in columns for The Washington Post.
Saudi Arabia says it says it will disclose the results of its investigation into his disappearance.
The investment conference is being organized by Saudi Arabia’s mammoth sovereign wealth fund and was being billed as a showcase for economic reforms advanced by Salman as he attempts to diversify the kingdom’s economy, for decades focused on its role as the world’s leading oil exporter.
The gathering had been dubbed “Davos in the Desert,” after the annual meeting of world economic leaders in Switzerland.
International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde said she is skipping the conference. JP Morgan chief executive Jamie Dimon and the heads of two top U.S. investment firms — BlackRock and Blackstone — have dropped out of the gathering. Top executives at the Ford auto manufacturing company and the MasterCard credit company have said the won’t be going, while the Google internet search engine company said that the head of its cloud computing business also would not be at the event.
The chiefs of European bankers BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, HSBC, Standard Chartered and Societe Generale also rescinded acceptances to the conference.
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