International News

IMF’s Christine Lagarde ‘horrified’ by Khashoggi case, still plans Saudi visit

Ankara claims to have evidence that Jamal Khashoggi was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. IMF chief Christine Lagarde said she would be “very attentive” to new information about the missing Saudi journalist.
Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), said Saturday she was “horrified” by reports about the missing Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, but would not cancel her plans to attend an elite economic meeting in Riyadh later this month.
Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government, went missing after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
Sources in Turkey indicate there are audio and video recordings proving that Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this month, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.
The smartwatch that Khashoggi was wearing when he went into the consulate could be a source of audio from inside. It was linked to a phone he gave his fiancee ahead of the meeting. She waited 11 hours outside the building for him to come out.
IMF in all corners of the world
“Human rights, freedom of information are essential rights and horrifying things have been reported, and I am horrified,” Lagarde told reporters in Bali, Indonesia, during the IMF’s annual meetings on Saturday.
Despite her concerns over the fate of the Saudi journalist, Lagarde said she still planned to visit Riyadh later this month to attend an investment conference.
“At this point in time, my intention is not to change my plan and to be very attentive to the information that is coming up in the next few days,” the IMF chief said.
“I have to conduct the business of the IMF in all corners of the world and with many governments,” she added.
Media directors and business owners have indicated they will no longer attend the October 23-25 meeting, dubbed “Davos in the Desert.” Journalists from The Economist, CNBC and The New York Times pulled out of the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh and have been joined by executives from Uber, CNN and The Financial Times.
Mixed US response
Lagarde’s comments came shortly after US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin confirmed that he too would participate in the Saudi business summit.
“The answer is for now I am [going],” Mnuchin said.
“If more information comes out over the next week, I will obviously take that into account,” he said, adding that he would like to “express concern for Mr. Khashoggi and his family.”
The Trump administration has been hesitating over how to react to the allegations. The president said late on Thursday that the journalist’s disappearance was unacceptable.
US arms sales to the Saudi kingdom look set to continue: “They are spending $110 billion on military equipment and on things that create jobs,” Trump said.
Riyadh denies involvement
Turkey accuses Saudi Arabia of murdering Khashoggi and removing his body from the consulate.
On Wednesday, Turkish media released police CCTV surveillance videos they reported as a Saudi “assassination squad” sent to kill Khashoggi. The videos by themselves do not paint a whole picture or show scenes from inside the consulate.
Saudi officials have strongly denied they know anything about the fate of Khashoggi, who was close to the government in Riyadh before becoming critical of the kingdom and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
On Thursday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s adviser Ibrahim Kalin said Ankara and Riyadh had set up a “joint working group” at the request of the Saudis “to shed light on all sides of [the] Khashoggi case.”