La­garde ‘hor­ri­fied’ but still to go for con­tro­ver­sial trip

The Star Malaysia - - World -

NUSA DUA ( In­done­sia): IMF chief Chris­tine La­garde said she was “hor­ri­fied” by re­ports about the fate of Saudi dis­si­dent Ja­mal Khashoggi but still plans to at­tend an eco­nomic meet­ing in Riyadh this month.

As ques­tions swirl over the fate of Khashoggi – a Saudi critic who has not been seen since he walked into the king­dom’s con­sulate in Is­tan­bul on Oct 2 – some big busi­ness names and me­dia out­lets have pulled out of the King­dom’s sec­ond Fu­ture In­vest­ment Ini­tia­tive.

But La­garde said her plans were un­changed for now, de­spite in­ter­na­tional up­roar over the case.

“Hu­man rights, free­dom of in­for­ma­tion are es­sen­tial rights and hor­ri­fy­ing things have been re­ported and I am hor­ri­fied,” she told re­porters in Bali where the IMF is hold­ing an­nual meet­ings.

“But I have to con­duct the busi­ness of the IMF in all cor­ners in the world and with many gov­ern­ments. When I visit a coun­try, I al­ways speak my mind ... So at this point of time my in­ten­tion is to not change my plans and to be very at­ten­tive to the in­for­ma­tion that is com­ing out in the next few days.”

Her com­ments came shortly af­ter US Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steven Mnuchin said he also still planned to at­tend the Oct 23­25 meet­ing, dubbed “Davos in the Desert”.

Bloomberg, the Fi­nan­cial Times, The Econ­o­mist and The New York Times have with­drawn as me­dia spon­sors from the event amid ques­tions about the miss­ing man’s fate.

The CEO of ride­hail­ing app Uber, Dara Khos­row­shahi, said that he will no longer be at­tend­ing the event un­less “a sub­stan­tially dif­fer­ent set of facts emerges”.

Bri­tish en­tre­pre­neur Richard Bran­son said he would sus­pend two di­rec­tor­ships linked to tourism projects in Saudi Ara­bia over the is­sue.

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