By Damian Paletta and Josh Dawsey | Washington Post
WASHINGTON – Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has decided to take part in an anti-terror finance meeting with Saudi security officials and their Middle Eastern counterparts in Riyadh later this month, opting to attend despite growing global outrage over the suspected murder of a U.S.-based journalist at the hands of Saudi operatives, according to three people familiar with his travel plans.
The security gathering next week is separate from a Riyadh financial summit that Mnuchin announced on Thursday he would not attend. Numerous other Western officials and corporations have pulled out of the “Davos in the Desert” financial summit because of the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who wrote for The Washington Post.
The event Mnuchin still plans to attend – a gathering of the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center in Riyadh – would include participation by Saudi security services that are under scrutiny in Khashoggi’s death.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – the presumptive king and one of Trump’s closest allies in the region – is under growing pressure to explain the disappearance of Khashoggi, who U.S. intelligence officials believe was killed and dismembered by a Saudi “murder team” inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey on Oct. 2. He has not been seen since.
The White House has been hesitant to criticize Saudi Arabia, although President Donald Trump acknowledged for the first time Thursday that Khashoggi was likely dead.
In announcing his withdrawal Thursday from the financial summit, called the Future Investment Initiative, Mnuchin said he reached the decision with the help of Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Mnuchin did not give a reason for pulling out of the conference, but he was under growing pressure from congressional Republicans not to attend as it could have been seen as a sign the Trump administration was not …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Nation, World