France’s Macron suspends official visits to Saudi Arabia during Khashoggi controversy

France’s Macron suspends official visits to Saudi Arabia during Khashoggi controversy
© Greg Nash

French President Emmanuel Macron announced Thursday that he is suspending political visits to Saudi Arabia over the controversy surrounding the disappearance of U.S.-based Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Turkey.

Macron made the announcement to reporters in Brussels on Thursday, Bloomberg News reports, amid decisions from the French and Dutch finance ministers to withdraw from the 2018 Future Investment Initiative set to take place in Riyadh this month.

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“In the current circumstances we have decided to suspended some visits, political ones,” the French president said, while adding that he would not comment on internal Saudi politics.

“It is not for me to comment on internal political situations of any other country, nor the psychological or security aspects in those,” he added.

Suspending visits, Macron said, had “to be done in the short term given the seriousness of the facts and the absence of clarification on these elements.”

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin pulled out of the economic conference earlier on Thursday as President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates ambassador to Turkey Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago after signing bill to avert shutdown CNN, MSNBC to air ad turned down by Fox over Nazi imagery MORE appeared to strike a harsher tone on the investigation into Khashoggi's disappearance than he had in recent days.

"It certainly looks that way to me. It's very sad," Trump told reporters Thursday afternoon before departing for a campaign rally.

"It’s bad, bad stuff," he added. "But we’ll see what happens."

Turkish officials have indicated unofficially that investigators have obtained audio recordings proving that Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, which the Saudi government has so far publicly denied.

The latest news reports indicate that the Saudi government may be planning to blame the columnist's death on a top intelligence official, contradicting days of denials.