US Treasury Secretary meets Saudi Crown Prince
Riyadh: US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud here amid an international outcry over dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death.
A photograph of the meeting between Mnuchin and the Crown Prince on Monday was posted on Twitter by the Saudi Foreign Ministry, reports CNN.
Saudi officials said the meeting “stresses the importance of the Saudi-US strategic partnership, where it holds an important role in the future in line with the Kingdom’s #Vision2030”, according to its caption.
Mnuchin’s arrival in Riyadh comes after he joined other government officials from multiple countries as well as top banking and finance executives in bowing out of a high-profile investor conference in Saudi Arabia amid growing controversy over Khashoggi’s disappearance and apparent murder.
The Washington Post columnist was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, the day a Saudi hit squad allegedly arrived at the consulate.
The Saudis on October 19 said his death came after an altercation inside the Saudi consulate and said they continued to investigate.
President Donald Trump said on Monday he remains unhappy with the official Saudi explanation, but reiterated that he doesn’t want to suspend relations between the two countries, including a multibillion-dollar arms deal inked last year.
The Treasury Department did not release its own photo of the Mnuchin-Mohammed meeting in Riyadh, which is part of Mnuchin’s week-long multi-country trip to the Middle East.
However, it did post photographs of his meetings with other top leaders in Israel and Jordan.
Tony Sayegh, a top Treasury spokesman, said Mnuchin and the Crown Prince discussed combating terrorism financing, implementing sanctions on Iran and the Khashoggi investigation.
In an earlier tweet, Sayegh stressed that Mnuchin’s meeting in Saudi was a part of six-country trip, including a visit to the Terrorist Financing Targeting Centre.
He said the secretary was also holding meetings in preparation of Iranian sanctions that kick in on November 4.
Mnuchin’s trip to Riyadh comes just two weeks after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went to meet the Crown Prince, CNN said.
Mnuchin nevertheless told reporters on Sunday that it would be “premature” to discuss whether the US would impose sanctions on the Saudi government in response to the Khashoggi’s death.