Missing journalist: IMF chief 'horrified' but won't skip Saudi meet

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde said she intends to go ahead with attending the conference, and "to be very attentive to the information that is coming out in the next few days".
International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde said she intends to go ahead with attending the conference, and "to be very attentive to the information that is coming out in the next few days".PHOTO: AFP

NUSA DUA (Bali) • International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde has no plans at the moment to pull out of an upcoming Saudi investment summit that has been rocked by the mass withdrawal of international heavyweights amid mounting speculation over the disappearance of a dissident journalist.

Mr Jamal Khashoggi, an outspoken critic of the Saudi government, has not been seen since he entered a Saudi consulate in Turkey on Oct 2.

In the past week, accusations of murder have emerged, with Turkish officials coming out to say that the veteran journalist was killed and dismembered by a hit squad of Saudi government agents.

As outrage grows, a wave of withdrawals from the annual Future Investment Initiative summit - which is set to take place in the Saudi capital of Riyadh from Oct 23 to 25 - has begun.

Known as "Davos in the desert" - after a gathering of elites that takes place each year in Switzerland - the conference is due to be hosted by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Asked if she would still be attending the conference, Ms Lagarde yesterday told reporters in Bali: "Human rights and freedom of information are essential rights. And horrifying things have been reported. And I am horrified.

"But I have to conduct the business of the IMF in all corners of the world and with many governments. And when I visit a country, I always speak my mind. You know me, I do."

 
 

She said she intends at this point to go ahead with attending the conference, and "to be very attentive to the information that is coming out in the next few days".

Executives who have backed out of the event included Virgin Group founder Richard Branson and The Huffington Post co-founder Arianna Huffington.

Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 14, 2018, with the headline 'Missing journalist: IMF chief 'horrified' but won't skip Saudi meet'. Print Edition | Subscribe