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 TrumpAmash responds to 'Send her back' chants at Trump rally: 'This is how history's worst episodes begin' McConnell: Trump 'on to something' with attacks on Dem congresswomen Trump blasts 'corrupt' Puerto Rico's leaders amid political crisis 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 MnuchinMnuchin says White House, Pelosi have deal on top-line budget numbers The Hill's Morning Report - Trump seizes House impeachment vote to rally GOP Administration pushes back on quick budget deal: 'We have a way to go' 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 FlakeFlake urges Republicans to condemn 'vile and offensive' Trump tweets Flake responds to Trump, Jimmy Carter barbs: 'We need to stop trying to disqualify each other' Jeff Flake responds to Trump's 'greener pastures' dig on former GOP lawmakers 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 PompeoIn Afghanistan, give peace a chance — and a lot of time The Hill's Morning Report - Trump seizes House impeachment vote to rally GOP Mystery surrounds elusive sanctions on Russia 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.