Saudi Arabia's MBS to Make First International Speech Since Khashoggi's Killing

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman poses for a selfie at the Future Investment Initiative conference, Riyadh, October 23, 2018
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman poses for a selfie at the Future Investment Initiative conference, Riyadh, October 23, 2018Credit: AFP

The Saudi crown prince will make his first international speech since the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Mohammed bin Salman is set to address the Future Investment Initiative summit in Riyadh on Wednesday afternoon.

The summit is the prince’s brainchild, an effort to draw much-needed foreign direct investment into the kingdom to create jobs for its young population.

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However, this year’s summit has been overshadowed by the October 2 killing of Khashoggi. Turkish officials say the writer was killed by a 15-man Saudi hit squad that included a member of Prince Mohammed’s entourage on overseas trips.

Saudi Arabia has suggested, without offering evidence, that the team went rogue.

Many international business leaders have pulled out of attending the summit over Khashoggi’s slaying.

On Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump said that Saudi authorities staged the "worst cover-up ever" in the killing of Khashoggi.

"They had a very bad original concept. It was carried out poorly, and the cover-up was one of the worst in the history of cover-ups," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. 

Twenty-one Saudis will have their U.S. visas revoked or be made ineligible for U.S. visas over the killing, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said. The vast majority of the 21 have U.S. visas, a U.S. State Department official added.

"These penalties will not be the last word on the matter from the United States," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters. "We're making very clear that the United States does not tolerate this kind of ruthless action to silence Mr. Khashoggi, a journalist, through violence."

The foreign ministers of the G7 group of nations said Saudi Arabia should conduct a credible investigation, "in full collaboration with the Turkish authorities."

On Tuesday, the first day of the summit in Riyadh, the crown prince sat alongside King Abdullah II of Jordan during an afternoon session. Prince Mohammed also looked at some promotional booths outside the main hall as an excited crowd of mostly young Saudi men recorded the encounter on their phones.

At one summit session, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih described Khashoggi's slaying as "abhorrent."

"As we all know, these are difficult days for us in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia," he said. "Nobody in the kingdom can justify it or explain it. From the leadership on down, we're very upset of what has happened."

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave a speech to parliament, largely confirming reports and leaks from anonymous officials in past days.

Erdogan said Tuesday that 15 Saudi officials arrived in Istanbul shortly before Khashoggi's death and that a man, apparently dressed in the writer's clothes, acted as a possible decoy by walking out of the consulate on the day of the disappearance.

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"Why did these 15 people all with links to the event gather in Istanbul on the day of the murder? We are seeking answers. Who did these people get their orders from to go there? We are seeking answers," Erdogan said.

"When the murder is so clear, why were so many inconsistent statements made? Why is the body of a person who has officially been accepted as killed still not around?"

Turkish investigators, meanwhile, inspected a car belonging to the consulate and found three suitcases, a laptop computer and clothes inside, state television TRT reported. Authorities discovered the car at an underground garage on Monday.

In Riyadh on Tuesday, King Salman and Prince Mohammed received Khashoggi's son, Salah, and his brother, Sahel, at the Yamama Palace, where the royals expressed their condolences.

A friend of the Khashoggi family told The Associated Press that Salah has been under a travel ban since last year. The individual spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing reprisal.

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