French minister pulls out of Saudi conference over Khashoggi's disappearance

WION Web Team Paris, France Oct 18, 2018, 12.14 PM(IST)

File Photo: A demonstrator holds a picture of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a protest in front of Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. Photograph:( Reuters )

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Turkish authorities accused Saudi Arabia of killing Khashoggi inside the consulate and dismembering his body parts. 

French economy minister Bruno Le Maire said today that he was pulling out of the international conference at Riyadh over Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance.

"I won't go to Riyadh next week," Le Maire told a Franch TV channel, adding "the current circumstances do not allow me to go to Riyadh".

Maire is the first senior government minister to give the Saudi event a miss in the wake of the Khashoggi's disappearance. US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin had said earlier that he will decide on Thursday whether to attend.

The Saudi government every year hosts the "Future Investment Initiative" touted as the "Davos in the Desert" which is attended by top CEOs and government ministers, however, this time several top executives including JP Morgan CEO James Dimon and Ford chairman Bill Ford have decided to stay away after an international outcry over the sudden disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi who went missing after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Virgin Atlantic chief Richard Branson and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi had earlier pulled out of the marquee event. Saudi Arabia has consistently denied any involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance and promised a thorough probe into the incident.

Turkish authorities meanwhile entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Thursday for the second time to search for clues into the mysterious disappearance of Khashoggi. The investigators including forensic experts also searched the Saudi consul's residence as the mystery deepened into Khashoggi fate.

Khashoggi who often criticised the Saudi government over it policies was last seen entering the consulate in Istanbul on October 2nd. The Washinton Post which revealed the story first as Khashoggi went missing published his opinion piece on Thursday with Karen Attiah, the opinion editor declaring that he may never return.

Turkish authorities accused Saudi Arabia of killing Khashoggi inside the consulate and dismembering his body parts.