IMF chief ‘hor­ri­fied’ by Khashoggi case

Kuwait Times - - International -

NUSA DUA: IMF chief Chris­tine La­garde said yes­ter­day 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 Oc­to­ber 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 Oc­to­ber 23-25 meet­ing, dubbed “Davos in the Desert”.

“The an­swer is for now I am” still go­ing, Mnuchin said. “If more in­for­ma­tion comes out over the next week, I will ob­vi­ously take that into ac­count.” “Ob­vi­ously I want to ex­press con­cern for Mr Khashoggi and his fam­ily,” he added. “We look for­ward to get­ting re­sults of this in­ves­ti­ga­tion.” UN chief An­to­nio Guter­res mean­while

told the BBC: “We need to have a strong re­quest for the truth to be clear.” “We need to know ex­actly what has hap­pened and we need to know ex­actly who is re­spon­si­ble... we need to find ways in which ac­count­abil­ity is also de­manded,” he added.

The UN sec­re­tary gen­eral said he felt “this kind of in­ci­dent is mul­ti­ply­ing.” “I am feel­ing wor­ried (at) this ap­par­ent new nor­mal,” he said in Bali. Riyadh yes­ter­day dis­missed ac­cu­sa­tions that au­thor­i­ties there had or­dered Khashoggi be mur­dered by a hit squad in­side its Is­tan­bul con­sulate as “lies and base­less al­le­ga­tions”. But the row has in­ten­si­fied with the Wash­ing­ton Post re­port­ing that Turk­ish of­fi­cials have record­ings made from in­side the build­ing that al­legedly prove their claims Khashoggi was tor­tured and killed at the con­sulate.

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 ride-hail­ing 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. Amnesty In­ter­na­tional de­manded the Saudi au­thor­i­ties re­veal what hap­pened to Khashoggi as it said Riyadh was “re­spon­si­ble at a min­i­mum for en­forced dis­ap­pear­ance”.

US Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Mean­while, US Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steven Mnuchin said yes­ter­day that he still planned to at­tend an eco­nomic meet­ing in Riyadh this month, but would keep his eye on a probe into the dis­ap­pear­ance of jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi. 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 Oc­to­ber 2 - some big busi­ness names and me­dia out­lets have pulled out of the sec­ond Fu­ture In­vest­ment Ini­tia­tive.

“Ob­vi­ously I want to ex­press con­cern for Mr Khashoggi and his fam­ily,” Mnuchin told re­porters on the side­lines of the IMF’s an­nual meet­ings in Bali. “We look for­ward to get­ting re­sults of this in­ves­ti­ga­tion.” But Mnuchin added that he had not changed plans to at­tend the Oc­to­ber 23-25 con­fer­ence in Riyadh, dubbed “Davos in the Desert” af­ter the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum in the Swiss re­sort. “The an­swer is for now I am” still go­ing, Mnuchin said. “If more in­for­ma­tion comes out over the next week, I will ob­vi­ously take that into ac­count.”

—AFP

NUSA DUA: US Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steven Mnuchin ad­dresses a press con­fer­ence on the side­line of the IMF/WB An­nual meet­ings in Nusa Dua yes­ter­day.

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