10/23/2018, 19.22
TURKEY – SAUDI ARABIA
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Khashoggi’s murder was 'political' and 'premeditated', says Erdoğan

After setting an ultimatum, Turkish president spoke to AKP MPs about the journalist’s disappearance, the careful planning involving at least 18 people. Meanwhile, the "Davos in the desert" opens in Riyadh despite the no-show by many political and business leaders. The one exception is France’s Total.

Ankara (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on 2 October, was a “premeditated" political act that was “carefully planned" days before it took place, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told MPs from his ruling party, the AKP, in Ankara.

Today was the deadline the Turkish president had set for Saudi leaders to explain what led to the assassination of the Saudi intellectual, an act praised by some and vilified by others.

Whilst the search for Khashoggi’s body continues in the Belgrad forest, near Istanbul, and in the area of ​​Yalova, the Turkish president described events as they unfolded, starting before the victim entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

By acknowledging the assassination, Saudi Arabia took a significant step, Erdoğan said, but now the goal is to bring to justice the people involved in Istanbul, at least 18 apparently.

The Turkish leader went on to say that he did not doubt Saudi King Salman’s honesty but added that “a critical investigation [has] to be carried out by objective, fair teams with no relations to the murder.”

As evidence of the crime’s premeditation, he cited the 15 Saudi agents who arrived on the day of Khashoggi’s disappearance and asked “Why was the consulate opened to investigation days after the murder rather than immediately after?”

"[W]e expect them [the investigators] to uncover all those responsible for this matter from top to bottom and make them face the necessary punishments in front of the law”, he said.

Meanwhile, the Future Investment Initiative (FII) opened this morning in Riyadh, the "Davos in the desert" until Thursday, an event strongly backed by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman as part of his "Vision 2030" development plan.

His ambitious plan of reforms, which includes human rights, is ostensibly meant to modernise the country, but is belied by the crackdown against top officials and businessmen as well as the repression of activists and critics.

In light of the Khashoggi affair, many world leaders declined to come, including US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire, British Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox and Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde postponed a trip to the Mideast scheduled for the same period, effectively cancelling her visit to Saudi Arabia.

The controversy surrounding the disappearance of the Saudi journalist also prompted several international companies to stay away from the Future Investment Initiative.

The Swiss town of Davos – host of the World Economic Forum – threatened to take action against associating its name with the Saudi event. The latter’s website was hacked with a picture of the Crown Prince with a flag of the Islamic State group set to behead Khashoggi.

Many companies have declined the invitation as well, from Uber and Virgin to the largest industrial groups and investment funds,

The one exception is French energy giant Total, which confirmed the participation of its CEO Patrick Pouyanné, a decision justified by the principle that "an empty chair" does not advance human rights and respect and by its "loyalty" to its Saudi partner, Aramco.

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