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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 TrumpDeath toll in Northern California wildfire rises to 48: authorities Graham backs bill to protect Mueller Denham loses GOP seat in California 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 MnuchinOn The Money: Amazon taps New York, Northern Virginia for new offices | What it means for the DC area | Dems target vulnerable commerce chief | Earmarks look to be making a comeback New IRS chief to make updating agency technology a priority Trade discussions resume between US, China 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 FlakeGrassley defends acting AG against calls for recusal Former NY Times book critic: I take back my positive review of Jeff Flake's book Majority say Trump should face primary challenge, poll finds 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 PompeoTrump: NY Times report on North Korean missile bases inaccurate Pompeo accuses Newsweek of 'helping' Iran 'spread lies' Overnight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — Trump's Armistice Day trip marked by controversy | US ends aerial refueling to Saudi coalition in Yemen | Analysts identify undeclared North Korean missile bases 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.