Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Thursday that he won’t be attending the Future Investment Initiative summit in Saudi Arabia, following the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Mnuchin tweeted he’s dropping out of the conference after meeting with President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He becomes the latest high-profile speaker to scrap plans for the conference, dubbed “Davos in the Desert,” which is still scheduled to take place next week.
— Steven Mnuchin (@stevenmnuchin1) October 18, 2018
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and Ford chairman Bill Ford recently dropped out of the summit in Riyadh, after Khashoggi went missing two weeks ago at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Khashoggi’s disappearance has strained the Saudi royal family’s relationship with the West, with Turkish officials telling the New York Times on Wednesday it has audio the journalist was beheaded shortly after entering the consulate on Oct. 2.
President Trump has been hesitant to criticize the Saudi regime while pointing to the country’s wealth and close relationship to the U.S. “That doesn’t help us — not when it comes to jobs and not when it comes to our companies losing out on work,” Trump said last week. Mnuchin’s decision looks to signal the Trump administration’s desire to distance itself from the Saudi royal family.
Media sponsors for the event, including the New York Times and Bloomberg, have also recently dropped out. The string of prominent departures has dampened excitement for the ritzy conference, which is closely tied to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.