US President Donald Trump arrives in Osaka, Japan, on Thursday ahead of the G-20 Summit, which gets under way on Friday. (Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)

Saudi Crown Prince among Leaders to Meet with Trump at G-20 Summit

Government leaders urged to use opportunity to press Riyadh for more thorough investigation of Khashoggi murder, improvement in human rights

The 2019 G-20 summit is set to begin in Osaka, Japan, on Friday, and among the one-on-one meetings US President Donald Trump is scheduled to hold is a Saturday breakfast with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

The two have had a close working relationship since President Trump took office, and among the topics they’ll probably discuss are Iran and Yemen.

“I don’t think the Saudis have a lot of influence [regarding Iran and,] on balance, they probably don’t want a war, but it’s out of their hands,” David Butter, a Middle East and North Africa Program associate fellow at the London-based Chatham House, told The Media Line in an email. “[Bin Salman] will probably also be looking to get assurances from Trump and other leaders that arms flows will continue despite some legislatures creating obstacles over Yemen.”

Among those legislatures is the US Congress, where even members of President Trump’s Republican Party are pushing back against administration plans to sell the Saudis billions of dollars in weapons.

Riyadh has led a nine-member international military coalition in support of pro-Saudi President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi in Yemen’s bloody four-year civil war against Houthi rebels, who are supported by Iran, and has been accused of ignoring innocent civilians in its numerous air attacks against the rebels.

In Geneva on Wednesday, Agnes Callamard, the special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions for the United Nations, told reporters that world leaders should insist Saudi Arabia take “full responsibility” for the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the country’s consulate in Turkey last October. She called for an investigation of the Saudi crown prince and other senior Saudi officials for the incident, which she termed a “state killing.”

A spokesperson for Amnesty International told The Media Line in an email that according to a UN report, Riyadh’s efforts to ensure justice for the journalist’s death were “deeply inadequate” and called on the UN secretary-general to immediately take up Callamard’s recommendation for an international follow-up investigation.

“The international community must also press the Saudi Arabian authorities to end their wider crackdown on freedom of expression of peaceful critics and human rights defenders, including through arbitrary arrests, torture and grossly unfair trials,” the spokesperson added.

The global governance group of 19 of the major world economies plus the European Union was officially formed in 1999 and has a rotating presidency. Last year the summit took place in Buenos Aires. Next year it is scheduled to take place in Riyadh.

Among the broad range of topics to be discussed this year in Osaka are the global economy, trade and investment, innovation, women’s empowerment and improving global health.

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