Mnuchin Set to Meet Saudi Crown Prince in Riyadh Late Sunday
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is likely to meet with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, in Riyadh, according to people familiar with the matter.
Mnuchin is in the Saudi capital for a Group of 20 meeting of finance ministers and central bankers that concludes Sunday. He has met with the crown prince during at least three prior visits, including weeks after the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.
The Trump administration has made a public show of support of Saudi Arabia despite international outrage over Khashoggi’s death, a crackdown on dissent denounced by human rights groups, and the kingdom’s leading role in the grinding five-year war in Yemen.
The U.S. sees Saudi Arabia as a crucial partner in isolating Iran. The kingdom was the first country Trump visited after taking office in 2017.
The U.S.-Saudi relationship has endured significant strains in recent months: In December, a 21-year-old Saudi Air Force trainee killed three sailors in an attack at a military base in Florida, and the crown prince has been implicated in a phone hack against Amazon.com Inc. chief executive Jeff Bezos. Saudi officials have denied involvement in the hack.
Secretary of State Michael Pompeo met with the crown prince last week. Pompeo visited the kingdom, touring a Saudi airbase where the U.S. has deployed fighter jets and Patriot missile batteries to defend against Iranian attacks.
As the G-20’s host nation, Saudi Arabia is embarking on a year in the international spotlight. In an effort to make a mark on the global stage, the crown prince has been deeply involved in arrangements for the G-20, even having a say in the event’s logo.
Mnuchin is expected to return to Saudi Arabia in July for a second G-20 finance ministers’ summit in Jeddah.
A Treasury Department spokeswoman declined to comment on Mnuchin’s plans to meet with Prince Mohammed. Saudi Arabia’s Center for International Communication didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
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