RIYADH (NYTIMES) - US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met Saudi Arabia's crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, in Riyadh on Monday (Oct 22), discussing counterterrorism and economic ties amid growing questions about whether the prince had a role in the killing of a dissident journalist.
A Treasury spokesman said the meeting was focused on combating terrorist financing and corralling Iran's influences in the region and that the two men discussed the investigation into the death of the journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.
The Saudi Foreign Ministry posted a photograph of Mnuchin, sitting across from the crown prince in an ornate reception room in a tweet.
Prince Mohammed "stresses the importance of Saudi-US strategic partnership, where it holds an important role in the future in line with the kingdom's #Vision2030."
The meeting, which had not been previously scheduled, came at the request of the Saudi government, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Mnuchin withdrew from speaking at an investor conference taking place this week in Riyadh because of the circumstances surrounding Khashoggi's death but said he still planned to meet with Saudi officials to discuss economic issues and joint efforts to stop illicit terrorist financing.
In an interview on Sunday in Jerusalem, Mnuchin said that Saudi Arabia needed to do more to demonstrate that Khashoggi's killing was unintentional.
But he defended his decision to travel to Riyadh and meet with Saudi officials, saying his trip was aimed at reinforcing ties at a critical moment, as the United States tries to ratchet up pressure on Iran.
The meeting between the two officials occurred hours after Jared Kushner said the White House was still engaging in "fact-finding" into the circumstances of Khashoggi's death but that the White House has its "eyes wide open" as the investigations into how he died continue.
"I think that, again, the president is focused on what's good for America, what are strategic interests," said Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and a key adviser on the Mideast peace process.
"Where do we share interests with other countries - let's work toward those."
He made the remarks in his first televised interview since the 2016 election, conducted by political activist Van Jones, at the "Citizen by CNN" forum in Manhattan.