GULF TOWN DEMOLISHED
Trump, Branson demand answers over the disappearance of columnists after visiting consulate
GLOBAL business leaders are reassessing their ties with Saudi Arabia, stoking pressure on the Gulf kingdom to explain what happened to a dissident writer who disappeared after visiting its consulate in Istanbul.
British billionaire Richard Branson suspended business links with Saudi Arabia yesterday, and Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said he might not attend a major investment conference in the country this month amid reports that Jamal Khashoggi might have been killed at the Saudi consulate in Turkey’s capital.
“What has reportedly happened in Turkey around the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, if proved true, would clearly change the ability of any of us in the West to do business with the Saudi government,” Branson said.
Branson, founder of Virgin Group, says he will suspend his role as director in two tourism projects in Saudi Arabia while an investigation takes place. He also is putting on hold discussions about a proposed Saudi investment in space companies Virgin Galactic and Virgin Orbit.
Saudi Arabia is facing increasing international pressure to clarify what happened to Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, with US President Donald Trump and British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt among those demanding answers.
Khosrowshahi is scheduled to speak at the Future Investment Initiative conference, which takes place from next Tuesday (October 23-25) in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
The event also lists Jpmorgan Chase chief executive Jamie Dimon, Blackrock chairman Larry Fink and US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin among dozens of expected speakers.
“I’m very troubled by the reports to date about Jamal Khashoggi,” Khosrowshahi said.
“We are following the situation closely, and unless a substantially different set of facts emerges, I won’t be attending the FII conference in Riyadh.”
Other leaders, such as Joe Kaeser, the president and chief executive of German industrial giant Siemens AG, were still planning to attend – for now.
“We are watching the situation very closely and for the time being his participation is still planned,” said Robin Zimmermann, Siemens’ head spokesman.
The Financial Times, which is listed as a media partner to the event, announced it would no longer be doing so.
“The Financial Times will not be partnering with the FII conference in Riyadh while the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi remains unexplained,” Finola Mcdonnell, the head of communications, said.
CNN also cancelled its partnership, and said its anchors and reporters The small Gulf Coast community of Mexico Beach was known as a slice of Old Florida. Now it lies in splinters. See https://www.iol.co.za/news/world/ watch-the-florida-town-demolished-byhurricane-michael-17450244 would no longer moderate panels. The New York Times business columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin has similarly pulled out of the event.
Turkey’s state-run news agency said a delegation from Saudi Arabia has arrived in Turkey as part of an investigation.
Anadolu Agency said yesterday that the delegation would hold talks with Turkssasaish officials. It did not provide further details.
Turkish officials have said The Washington Post contributor may have been killed inside the consulate, but they haven’t offered any evidence. Saudi Arabia has denied the allegation as “baseless”. | AP
Business leaders cut ties with Saudis