The British government has confirmed that it will raise the thorny issue of the brutal murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi during Jeremy Hunt’s visit to Riyadh this week. The Foreign Secretary has been under pressure to present the official finding into the killing of the prominent critic of Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman by the six-month anniversary of his murder in April.
Junior minister Mark Field told MPs that Hunt is hoping to make progress on the case when he travels to Saudi Arabia this week. Details of the visit were revealed during a House of Commons exchange between Fields and Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry.
Thornberry asked for details of the “long overdue” progress on the investigation into his death during the commons clash. With the six month anniversary of Khashoggis death in mind, Thornberry said: “Could he ask his boss, the foreign secretary, to guarantee to the House that before we reach that sad milestone, he will present the government’s findings on who ultimately is responsible for that murder and what actions the government is taking in response?”
Field replied: “He will be going to Saudi this week and I hope there will be progress in relation to the very serious issues she brings up in the House.”
Pressed again, he said “this issue clearly will be discussed” next week adding that he hoped for an update in the Commons following the meeting.
Unlike its European allies, who have taken a harsher tone towards Saudi Arabia following the murder of Khashoggi, the UK has followed the lead of US President Donald Trump and kept its multi-billion dollar arms trade with Riyadh intact.
Germany joined EU countries including Denmark and Finland to act following the murder of the Washington Post journalist citing war crimes being committed by Saudi coalition forces in Yemen. In contrast, Hunt unsuccessfully appealed to the German government to start selling arms to the Kingdom again.
Germany’s ruling coalition, have resisted the pressure and announced their intention to extend a freeze on arms exports to Saudi Arabia beyond 9 March.