G-20 summit

Saudi Crown Prince gets both cold and warm reception G-20 summit

A microphone captured fragments of the dialogue between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman and French President Emmanuel Macron when they met on the sidelines of the summit. The Crown Prince told Mr Macron not to worry, but the French president r
A microphone captured fragments of the dialogue between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman and French President Emmanuel Macron when they met on the sidelines of the summit. The Crown Prince told Mr Macron not to worry, but the French president responded that he was worried, and was also heard saying: "You never listen to me. I am a man of my word."PHOTO: EPA-EFE
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman warmly greeting each other with hand claps, knuckle pats, smiles and laughter at the summit in Buenos Aires last Friday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman warmly greeting each other with hand claps, knuckle pats, smiles and laughter at the summit in Buenos Aires last Friday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

He receives apparent talking-to from Macron, but is greeted with a high-five from Putin

BUENOS AIRES • Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman showed himself to be no outcast on Friday at the G-20 summit, with a beaming Vladimir Putin welcoming him but European leaders warning him over the killing of a dissident journalist.

It was a sign that the Crown Prince can still expect a warm welcome from at least some heads of state, even after US intelligence agencies and many Western officials have concluded that he authorised the killing of Mr Jamal Khashoggi, a Virginia resident and Washington Post columnist ambushed two months ago by Saudi agents in a consulate in Istanbul.

The prince has denied prior knowledge of the killing.

Last Friday's Group of 20 summit, a gathering of the leaders of the world's largest economies, is a closely-watched test for Crown Prince Mohammed, the de facto ruler of the oil-rich kingdom.

An Argentinian prosecutor has begun an inquiry into potential criminal charges against the crown prince for human rights abuses.

Rights groups have accused him of responsibility for the possible torture of Mr Khashoggi and certain Saudi prisoners, and for war crimes committed by Saudi-led forces fighting in Yemen.

The Argentinian authorities said there was no chance of any legal action before the end of the two-day meeting, but some world leaders had said they might confront him over the killing.

French President Emmanuel Macron appeared to do just that. When he met with Crown Prince Mohammed on the sidelines of the summit, a microphone captured fragments of their dialogue.

Mr Macron stood with a stern face, just inches from Crown Prince Mohammed, who was nodding his head and smiling awkwardly.

The Argentinian authorities said there was no chance of any legal action before the end of the two-day meeting, but some world leaders had said they might confront him over the killing.

"Don't worry," the Crown Prince told the French President.

"I do worry. I am worried," Mr Macron responded. "I told you."

"You told me. Thank you very much," Crown Prince Mohammed said, bowing his head almost bashfully.

"You know what I mean," the French leader continued, adding moments later, "You never listen to me," and "I am a man of my word."

 
 
 

"I do listen to you," Crown Prince Mohammed insisted, adding: "It's okay, I can deal with it."

Last Friday, the Crown Prince also met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose country sends many temporary migrant workers to Saudi Arabia; as well as President Xi Jinping of China.

But a video clip of Crown Prince Mohammed's encounter with Mr Putin was the most-talked-about image of the day, in part because of the delight the two leaders appeared to take in their encounter.

Mr Putin also faced international criticism over a murder this year. Britain has concluded that Mr Putin's government ordered the killing of a former Russian spy living near London, a charge the Kremlin denies.

Approaching seats next to each other at a round-table at the summit meeting, Mr Putin and the Crown Prince clapped their palms together in the air as though in a high-five. Lowering their clasped hands as the handshake continued, the Prince affectionately patted Mr Putin three times on the knuckles and they continued to smile and laugh together as though enjoying a joke.

Meanwhile, officials in a Washington neighbourhood have voted to rename a street outside Saudi Arabia's embassy in honour of Mr Khashoggi.

If approved by the city council, the advisory commission's measure means a stretch of road going past the embassy building in the upscale Foggy Bottom neighbourhood would be renamed "Jamal Khashoggi Way".

The idea to change the street's name started about a month ago, following an online petition.

NYTIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 02, 2018, with the headline 'Saudi Crown Prince gets both cold and warm reception G-20 summit'. Print Edition | Subscribe