Macron Suspends Political Visits To Saudi Arabia As Khashoggi Backlash Intensifies

One of France's top ministers joins a list of politicians and business executives no longer visiting the country for an investment summit.

French President Emmanuel Macron suspended political visits to Saudi Arabia in an act of opposition to the country’s alleged role in the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Macron said Thursday that he made the decision quickly “given the seriousness of the facts and the absence of clarification on these elements.” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire will no longer attend the Future Investment Initiative conference next week in Riyadh. 

The decision was made in consultation with Germany, the UK and the Netherlands.

France doesn’t, however, appear to be making any changes to its arms deals with Saudi Arabia. Defense Minister Florence Parly spoke Wednesday of their role as an important job creator in the country.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also canceled his plans to visit the country for the summit next week, joining various business and media executives from top U.S. companies to withdraw.

President Donald Trump on Thursday acknowledged that Khashoggi was most likely dead, implying that Saudi Arabia appeared to be culpable. 

“Well, it’ll have to be very severe,” he said of the consequences for the country. “I mean, it’s bad, bad stuff. But we’ll see what happens.”

Khashoggi hasn’t been seen since he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Turkish authorities have said they hold proof that the Washington Post columnist was brutally tortured, dismembered and murdered inside the consulate.

After initially denying any role in the matter, Saudi authorities have reportedly changed their tune. They’re considering blaming a top Saudi intelligence official for the killing, The New York Times reported.