Emmanuel Macron tells Saudi prince international experts needed in Khashoggi murder investigation
French President Emmanuel Macron has told Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that Europe will insist on international experts being part of the investigation into the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
- Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October
- Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor says the Crown Prince knew nothing of the operation
- It’s the first time Mr Macron and the Crown Prince have spoken since Khashoggi’s murder
In a five-minute exchange on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina, Mr Macron conveyed “very firm” messages to the prince over the killing and the need to find a political solution for the situation in Yemen, an Elysee official said.
Video of their meeting shows the two speaking in hushed tones with their heads close together, Mr Macron looking the crown prince in the eye and Prince Mohammed nodding his head and at times smiling.
The Elysee official said it was the first time Mr Macron and the Crown Prince, known as MbS, had spoken since Khashoggi’s murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
Khashoggi, an opinion writer for the Washington Post who was at one time a Saudi royal insider before becoming a critic of the leadership, was killed by lethal injection and dismembered by a group of Saudi men sent from the kingdom.
Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor has said the Crown Prince knew nothing of the operation to kill Khashoggi.
Mohammed bin Salman watches on as world leaders arrive before the family photo is taken at the G20 Summit. (Reuters: Kevin Lamarque)
Mr Macron’s office said the meeting with Mohammed bin Salman was justified because European nations wanted to send a united message about the need for probity in the investigation and were not going to sidestep an opportunity to reinforce that message during the G20.
“We were not going to play hide and seek for 48 hours, it wouldn’t make any sense,” the official said.
“If we’re here and he’s at the table, let’s be frank and not indulgent. Things that need saying will be said.”
Earlier, the Elysee official said the video showed “a sort of contrast between MbS’s face sporting an embarrassed smile and the [French] president’s face, which was rather stern, and was keen to convey these messages in a very firm manner”.
Vladimir Putin, Mohammed bin Salman in warm greeting
Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Crown Prince shared a smiley, enthusiastic greeting as the summit opened.
The two men beamed widely and clasped hands in something of a cross between a handshake and a high five.
The Crown Prince patted Putin’s hand three times as the two leaders took their seats next to each other.
Mr Putin and MbS are two controversial figures at the summit in Buenos Aires, having recently come under international criticism.
In Mr Putin’s case, other world leaders have expressed concern over Russia’s recent seizure of Ukrainian ships and their crews near Crimea.
Officials in Mr Macron’s office said that when the pair met on Friday, Mr Putin pulled out a sheet of white paper and sketched out the Ukrainian coast and the disputed waters where the weekend incident took place.
The French officials said Mr Macron asked for documents proving Russia’s claims, and insisted on the need for restraint in the conflict.
Ukraine contends its ships were in international waters, while Russia claims the boats violated its maritime border.