- Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is in Argentina for the G20 summit, alongside many other world leaders.
- Despite worldwide outrage after the brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the crown prince appears to still have an audience with many prominent world leaders.
- Many countries have halted arms sales or imposed sanctions on the kingdom. But Saudi Arabia has deep business ties that many other world powers have found hard to break.
Business appears to be as normal for Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, who is attending the G20 summit in Argentina despite global furor over the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived in Buenos Aires on Wednesday in preparation for the summit on Friday and Saturday.
The summit comes less than two months after Khashoggi’s killing in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Riyadh has long sought to distance the crown prince from the incident, despite increasing evidence directly linking him to it.
In Argentina, the crown prince has already met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday. He plans to meet British Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trump said he would have met Crown Prince Mohammed but was too busy.
“I would have met with him but we didn’t set that one up,” he said, according to The New York Times.
Crown Prince Mohammed also toured Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, and Tunisia before arriving in Argentina this week.
It suggests that despite global outrage over Khashoggi’s killing, multiple countries aren’t ready to freeze him out yet.
Only King Mohammed of Morocco has declined a meeting with the crown prince at the G20 summit, The Times of London reported.
Turkey’s foreign minister said on Tuesday that Crown Prince Mohammed requested to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the kingdom’s most staunch critic in Khashoggi’s death.
“Erdogan’s answer was, ‘Let’s see,'” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.
Prosecutors in Argentina are also considering whether to move forward with a case, brought forward by Human Rights Watch, on whether to charge Crown Prince Mohammed with committing war crimes in Yemen and torturing Saudi citizens. But The Guardian reported that he was unlikely to face charges before leaving the country.
Not everyone has changed their mind on Saudi Arabia
The US Senate on Wednesday voted to advance a resolution that would end support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. The same resolution failed in March, revealing how quickly feelings shifted on the US-Saudi relationship in Congress.
Several European nations – including Germany, Finland, and Denmark – also recently announced they would halt arms sales to the Saudis. Germany and Denmark cited Khashoggi’s killing, while Finland cited the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, to justify their decisions.
The US Treasury Department, France, and Germany have also imposed sanctions on Saudi citizens, including the crown prince’s associates, over Khashoggi’s killing.
But many other world leaders appear not to have changed their mind.
Saudi Arabia has lucrative deals around the world, particularly in the tech and military sectors.
India’s Modi discussed with the crown prince “enhancing Saudi investment in technology, infrastructure, petroleum, renewable energy, food security, fintech & defence sectors,” Indian ministry of external affairs spokesman Raveesh Kumar tweeted.
While May and Macron both said they would bring up Khashoggi’s killing with the crown prince, both countries are still selling arms to Saudi Arabia.
May also said she would confront Crown Prince Mohammed over the bloody civil war in Yemen, which a Saudi-led coalition has waged since 2015.
It’s not clear what she will discuss with him, given Britain – alongside the US – has been Riyadh’s main supporters in the Yemeni war, having provided the kingdom with billions of dollars of arms, intelligence, and training over the years.
Aid group Save the Children estimated this month that about 85,000 Yemeni children under 5 may have died of hunger and disease since the outbreak. The UN warned last month that up to 14 million civilians were on the brink of famine.
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