US President Donald Trump last week defended his relationship with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, calling him a “friend of mine” who was doing a “spectacular job”. At the G20 Summit held in Osaka, Japan, Trump praised the crown prince as “a man who has really done things in the last five years in terms of opening Saudi Arabia.”
Trump largely ignored questions about Bin Salman’s role in the 2018 murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi but told CNN that he was “extremely angry and very unhappy” about the killing, and claimed that “nobody has directly pointed a finger” at Bin Salman, despite reports from the CIA and the UN suggesting that MBS ordered the killing.
During a meeting, the pair spoke about trade, security issues and the “importance of human rights issues”, according to a White House statement.
Trump also defended his relationships with other world leaders, saying “I get along with everybody, except you people [CNN reporters]. I also get along with people who would be perceived as being very nice. I get along with [Russia’s] President Putin. I get along with Mohammed.”
Other world leaders also embraced MBS at the summit. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised the Saudi crown prince that Tokyo would help the kingdom with its efforts to reduce its oil dependency.
Meanwhile, Queen Maxima of the Netherlands has been criticised for remaining silent about the Khashoggi murder when meeting with Bin Salman. Agnes Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions, who has been investigating the Khashoggi murder, accused the queen of complicity by not discussing the case with the crown prince.
“It is one thing to meet this man, it is something else to remain silent,” she said. “At this point, silence equals complicity.”