World leaders welcome Saudi prince at G20, avoiding isolation
BUENOS AIRES, Nov 30, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – World leaders welcomed Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Friday at the G20 summit, showing he was no pariah less than two months after the kingdom killed a dissident journalist.
The 33-year-old heir apparent was seen chatting with US President Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka and shaking hands with French President Emmanuel Macron at the start of a two-day meeting of the world’s top economies in Buenos Aires.
Prince Mohammed and Russian President Vladimir Putin both grinned broadly and shook hands robustly as leaders converged for a group photo.
British Prime Minister Theresa May also said she would meet Prince Mohammed.
She said she would press the crown prince both on the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the Saudi-led offensive in Yemen, where millions are on the brink of starvation in what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
“The Saudi Arabians need to ensure that their investigation is a full investigation, that it’s credible, that it’s transparent, and that people can have confidence in the outcome of it, and that those responsible are held to account,” May told Sky News.
Macron told reporters before meeting the prince that he will “no doubt” mention the death of Khashoggi, a US-based contributor to The Washington Post who was killed when he visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
The killing has sparked widespread outrage but Western powers have pledged to maintain close relations with Saudi Arabia, a top oil producer and buyer of US weapons.
Trump, in an exclamation-heavy statement before the summit, said it did not matter whether Prince Mohammed knew about Khashoggi’s death and that Saudi Arabia was important for business and for its hostility to Iran.
The US Senate nonetheless moved this week to end support for the Saudi-led war against rebels in Yemen amid outrage over attacks on civilian sites including a school bus and hospitals.