IMF's Christine Lagarde delays trip to Middle East

IMF's Christine Lagarde delays trip to Middle East
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International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde is postponing her trip to the Middle East amid a growing controversy over the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“The Managing Director’s previously scheduled trip to the Middle East region is being deferred,” an IMF spokesperson said in a statement.

Lagarde was slated to appear at the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, a high-profile conference known as "Davos in the Desert." Other influential figures expected to attend, including JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford and journalists like CNBC's Aaron Ross Sorkin have all pulled out from the event in recent days, sparked by growing questions over Khashoggi's fate.

A U.S.-based Saudi journalist and frequent contributor to The Washington Post, Khashoggi went missing after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week. Turkish officials have said he was killed and dismembered inside the building, though these allegations have not been confirmed.

The reports of Khashoggi's alleged killing have sparked an international diplomatic crisis and led to calls on both sides of the political aisle in the U.S. for President TrumpDonald John TrumpZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Trump leaning toward keeping a couple hundred troops in eastern Syria: report Warren says making Israel aid conditional on settlement building is 'on the table' MORE to take action. But the president has been resistant to the pressure, calling the rush to blame Saudi Arabia another case of "guilty until proven innocent."

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinTop economic adviser warned Trump on reelection chances ahead of China truce: report The Hill's Morning Report - Tempers boil over at the White House Schumer seeks focus on health care amid impeachment fever MORE is among those slated to appear at the Riyadh conference and, as of Tuesday evening, is still expected to attend. Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeVulnerable senators hold the key to Trump's fate Trump's GOP impeachment firewall holds strong How to survive an impeachment MORE (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday called for him to withdraw. 

Trump on Tuesday said he had spoken with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who reportedly denied any knowledge of the journalist's disappearance. Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoGOP lawmaker: Trump administration 'playing checkers' in Syria while others are 'playing chess' Trump-Graham relationship tested by week of public sparring White House officials work to tamp down controversies after a tumultuous week MORE met with Salman on Tuesday, issuing a statement afterward in which he said he believed the Saudis had a "serious commitment to determine all the facts and ensure accountability" for Khashoggi's disappearance.