Saudi Embassy in DC cancels National Day celebration amid uproar over missing journalist

Saudi Arabia flag

A planned celebration of Saudi National Day at the Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Washington, D.C., has been canceled, a staffer at the embassy confirmed to The Hill on Monday.

The event was scheduled for Thursday. An individual at the embassy confirmed it had been called off and directed further questions toward the public affairs office. A request for additional comment was not immediately returned.

The cancellation comes as Saudi Arabia faces scrutiny over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was last seen entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago and was not seen leaving.

{mosads}The Daily Beast first reported that the National Day celebration had been canceled and noted that the event may have attracted protests in the wake of Khashoggi’s disappearance. National Day is a national holiday in Saudi Arabia that commemorates the renaming of the kingdom.

Khashoggi is a Washington Post columnist, a vocal critic of Saudi leadership and a U.S. resident.

Turkish officials have said they have audio and video that proves Khashoggi was killed at the consulate. Senators on Sunday indicated that it’s looking increasingly likely that Khashoggi was murdered there.

Saudi officials have said they do not know what happened to Khashoggi.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo departed Monday for Saudi Arabia to meet with King Salman, who spoke with President Trump earlier in the day.

While consensus is building among foreign and domestic officials that Saudi leadership was likely behind Khashoggi’s disappearance, Trump insisted that the king and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman strongly denied any involvement.

Trump told reporters at the White House that “rogue killers,” and not Saudi officials, may have gotten to Khashoggi. The president cited no specific evidence, but noted he had just spoken with King Salman, who denied that Riyadh was involved.

“I don’t want to get into his mind, but it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers. Who knows?” Trump said.

“We’re going to try get to the bottom of it very soon, but his was a flat denial,” Trump added.

Tags Donald Trump Mike Pompeo

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