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Steve Mnuchin does not attend Saudi conference

Mnuchin said Wednesday that he would make a decision based on Foreign Minister Mike Pompei's briefing to President Donald Trump…

Mnuchin said Wednesday that he would make a decision based on Foreign Minister Mike Pompei’s briefing to President Donald Trump on his visit earlier this week to Riyadh to discuss the Khashoggi case. Pompeo met with Trump earlier Thursday and said he recommended the president to give the saudis “a few days” to investigate.

“Just met @realDonaldTrump and @SecPompeo and we have decided that I will not participate in the Saudi Arabian Future Investment Initiative,” Mnuchin tweeted.

Three Highest Economic Ministers in Great Britain, France and The Netherlands

Mnuchin had repeatedly said that he planned to participate in the future investment initiative pending new information about the case, although details reported in the Turkish and US press about fate The fate of the Washington Post columnist has become increasingly cruel.

Turkish investigators wearing dangerous costumes searched for the Saudi Arabian consulate’s residence in Istanbul on Wednesday, looking for clues to what happened to Khashoggi among growing signs that the men claimed to be responsible for the journalist’s death have close ties to the highest level in the Saudi government.

Sources told CNN that a group of Saudi men, believed by Turkish officials in connection with Khashoggi’s apparent death, were led by a highly rated intelligence officer with a source saying he was close to the inner circle of King Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

New information has triggered a number of senior officials to withdraw from attending the event, including UK’s Minister of Trade Liam Fox.

“The Secretary of State for International Trade has decided that time is not right for him to participate in the future RIU investment initiative on October 23,” a British government spokesman said in a statement Thursday. “Britain is still very concerned about the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi.”

The statement continued: “We encourage cooperation between Turkey and Saudi Arabia and look forward to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia conducting a thorough, credible, transparent and prompt investigation, as announced. Those responsible for his disappearance must be kept accountable.”

The French finance minister Bruno Le Maire also said he discontinued his plans to attend the week’s conference, called “Davos in the Desert”.

“The conditions are not yet met for me to go to Riyadh.” Le Maire told the French Broadcasting General Senate. “Facts are serious and we want to know the truth,” said the minister.

Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra also returned on Thursday. A source familiar with the matter told CNN that “the minister does not go” to the conference in Saudi Arabia . The Minister of Finance was expected to submit a letter to the Dutch Parliament later on Thursday formally confirm that he is not present.

Mnuchin told reporters at a treasury press conference on Wednesday, together with Mexico’s finance minister, that he would make a decision on Thursday. “We will visit the decision again tomorrow,” said Mnuchin. “So for the moment, we are. We will make tomorrow’s decision based on the Secretary Pompei’s report.”

Mnuchin’s attendance at the event had become a benchmark for the administration’s response to the growing Saudi controversy as top executives and investors

Christine Lagarde, Executive Vice President of the International Monetary Fund, released Wednesday with the heads of two major French banks: BNP Paribas and Societe Generale .

In recent days, Trump has repeatedly come to the defense in Saudi Arabia and said that the country’s crown prince “totally denied” knowledge of the Washington Post journalist’s suspected death and that the answers to the question would come “shortly”.

CNN’s Chris Liakos, Nada Bashir, Saskya Vandoorne and John Defterios contributed to this report.


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