Stocks continued down in New York, following a tweet from US Secretary of State Steven Mnuchin announcing that he will not be heading to Saudi Arabia for an upcoming investment summit.
— Steven Mnuchin (@stevenmnuchin1) October 18, 2018
The decision to withdraw Mnuchin’s participation from the gathering in Riyadh comes as pressure mounts from lawmakers in Washington and the media for the Trump administration to demand answers from Saudi Arabian leaders about the recent disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
While the White House has said it is willing to give Riyadh several more days to produce a report on Khashoggi’s case. The Turkish government alleges that the Washington Post contributor and critic of Saudi leadership was tortured and killed by Saudi operatives in the country’s embassy in Istanbul, where he was last seen.
Mnuchin’s exit from the summit signals that, despite the strategic and economic importance of the US-Saudi alliance, and the White House’s initial inclination to give Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman cover, the Khashoggi incident will not be easy to ignore.
On Wednesday, Turkish newspaper Yen Safak published purported details of the alleged murder, which included Khashoggi’s fingers being removed during interrogation, followed by his beheading and dismemberment. Ankara also alleges that the killing was carried out under the direction of bin Salman.
Mnuchin joined other officials and executives including International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde and JP Morgan CEP Jamie Dimon in pulling out of the Saudi investment conference.