Osaka: US President Donald Trump on Saturday called Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman a “friend,” and ignored numerous questions about whether he planned to discuss the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
During a working breakfast on the second day of the G20 summit in Osaka, Trump described Salman, also known as ‘MBS’ as a “friend of mine” and congratulated him for his work, as well as highlighting that “Saudi Arabia is a good purchaser of American products”, reports Efe news.
Several reporters asked him whether he would raise the issue of Khashoggi with Salman, but Trump ignored them and seemed irritated by.
During the last G20 summit last December in Buenos Aires, the White House decided not to schedule a meeting between Trump and Salman due to the controversy over the killing of Khashoggi that October, allegedly by a group of Saudi agents, including some close to the Crown Prince.
However, Trump had a brief conversation with Salman during the plenary session in Buenos Aires, and relations with Saudi Arabia returned to normal, especially as tensions worsened with common enemy, Iran.
In a statement after Saturday’s meeting, the White House said that the leaders had discussed “the importance of human rights issues”, but it did not mention the journalist’s case.
Khashoggi, a US resident, Washington Post columnist and a critic of his country’s government, was murdered inside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2, 2018.
In their meeting in Osaka, Trump and Salman also spoke of the “critical role in ensuring stability in the Middle East and global oil markets” and of “the growing threat of Iran” as well as “increased trade and investments between the two countries”, according to the White House.
The Crown Prince also praised Trump at the meeting for having created political and economic achievements in the US, and hoped to work with him for the creation of jobs and security of the two nations.