French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said Thursday he was pulling out of a major investment conference in Saudi Arabia over the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“I won’t go to Riyadh next week,” Le Maire told France’s Public Senat TV channel, adding that “the current circumstances do not allow me to go to Riyadh”.
The minister echoed President Emmanuel Macron’s remarks last week on Khashoggi’s disappearance, calling it a “very serious” matter.
“The important thing now is that the full truth of this affair be known,” said Le Maire, who said he informed his Saudi counterpart on Wednesday of his decision.
Khashoggi, who was living in self-imposed exile in the United States where he contributed to the Washington Post, vanished after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
He was critical of some of Saudi Arabia’s policies.
Turkish officials claim he was killed and dismembered in the consulate by a hit squad which arrived from Riyadh — claims denied by the Saudi government.
Le Maire’s decision to pull out of the October 23-25 Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh — dubbed the “Davos in the Desert” — follows that of International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde.
The IMF said Wednesday that Lagarde had “deferred” her trip to the Middle East, without giving an explanation.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said he will decide on Thursday whether to attend.
Several Western business titans and media groups have already pulled out of the conference organized by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.
Like other Western allies of the world’s biggest oil exporter, France had embraced Saudi Arabia’s powerful new de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as a reformer.
Macron hosted the 33-year-old prince for a private dinner at the Louvre museum when he visited Paris in April.
Saudi Arabia was the second-biggest purchaser of French weapons between 2008 and 2017, after India, signing deals for some 12 billion euros ($13.8 billion) in French weaponry.
Bill Maher reveals plan to ‘bribe’ Trump with one billion dollars — for him to leave office
The Constitution has two mechanisms to remove President Donald Trump from office prior to his term ending on January 20, 2021: impeachment and the 25th Amendment.
HBO "Real Time" host Bill Maher noted that Trump could also choose to resign.
Maher waved around a $1 million check that he said he would give to Trump to quit.
He said he also knew 1,000 people who would do the same -- which would land Trump over $1 billion.
Maher said even poor people would pawn their wedding rings to add to the pot.
Trump can’t fire Mulvaney because nobody else wants to be his chief of staff: report
White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney will likely stay on at the White House despite his public confession of a quid pro quo in the Ukraine scandal at the center of the impeachment inquiry, The New York Times reported Friday.
"But Mr. Mulvaney’s job has been anything but normal since the news conference on Thursday at which he seemingly undermined the Trump administration’s strategy for avoiding impeachment by acknowledging that Mr. Trump had sought a quid pro quo for providing Ukraine with American aid," the newspaper reported. "In the chaotic aftermath, the president’s Republican allies are questioning Mr. Mulvaney’s savvy and intelligence even as the Trump campaign is defiantly turning one of his lines from the news conference into a T-shirt."
Bill Maher rips Trump and ‘the gang that couldn’t do treason straight’ on Real Time
HBO "Real Time" host Bill Maher ripped the incompetence of the Trump administration after acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney confessed that there was a quid pro quo with Ukraine in Rudy Giuliani's search for foreign election assistance.
"It's not just that he's always breaking the law, it's that he obviously wants you to know about it," Maher said. "The Joker doesn't want to get caught this bad."
"This is Trump's definition of three-dimensional chess, 'I'm going to distract you from impeaching me by committing more crimes," he said.
"It's like he comes home and Melania says to him, 'you have lipstick on your color,' and he says, 'you should see my d*ck,'" Maher said.