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5 US officials including Kushner, Mnuchin to attend Saudi financial conference

October 22, 2019 at 9:32 pm

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and presidential adviser Jared Kushner will lead Washington’s delegation to an annual financial conference in Saudi Arabia, government sources said on Tuesday, reports Reuters.

The conference comes a year after US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, prompting a global outcry.

State Department Iran advisor Brian Hook and Kushner adviser Avi Berkowitz plan to join Mnuchin and Kusher at the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, a senior administration official told Reuters.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who is due to step down on December 1, will also attend, a second government source said.

Perry has held a series of private talks with Saudi officials, including former energy minister Khalid al-Falih, on the use of US technology to build civilian nuclear power plants in the kingdom.

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Kushner will attend the conference after leading a delegation to Israel, Reuters reported on October 17. Mnuchin’s plans to attend were first reported by Quartz.

The conference, nicknamed “Davos in the Desert” seeks to draw global investment banks and financiers to Riyadh to interact with Saudi officials and drum up investment for projects in the region. It will be held from October 29 to 31 at the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh.

Last year executives including J.P. Morgan Chase Chief Executive Jamie Dimon and Ford Motor Co Chairman Bill Ford pulled out of the October conference, after Khashoggi’s October 2 disappearance.

The incident led to US Treasury sanctions on 17 Saudi individuals and a Senate resolution blaming Saudi Arabia’s crown prince. But Saudi officials, including Prince Mohammed, later blamed Khashoggi’s death and reported dismemberment on rogue officials.

The US can’t wash off Saudi’s crimes – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]