International Monetary Fund chief postpones Middle East trip with Saudi stop

  • International Monetary Fund chief postpones Middle East trip with Saudi stop

International Monetary Fund chief postpones Middle East trip with Saudi stop

The head of the International Monetary Fund deferred her trip to Saudi Arabia, where she had planned to attend an investment conference, adding to a growing number of business and finance leaders who've chose to skip the event after the disappearance of a Saudi journalist.

A spokesperson said Ms Lagarde's planned trip to the Middle East "is being deferred".

Jamal Khashoggi, an insider-turned-critic of the conservative monarchy, was last seen on 2 October when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to sort out marriage paperwork.

The IMF said its managing director was not attending the conference in Riyadh - dubbed "Davos in the Desert" - a brainchild of powerful Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Lagarde has already criticised Saudi Arabia over the case, but said that although she was duty-bound to attend the conference, she pledged to voice her criticism to the kingdom's leadership at apparent human rights abuses.

"We remain very troubled by the disappearance of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi", added the statement by Canada, which now holds the presidency of the group of industrial democracies. According to the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Saudi Arabia allowed the Turkish authorities to search the consulate building.

"The Managing Director's previously scheduled trip to the Middle East region is being deferred", an International Monetary Fund spokesperson said in a statement, without further explanation.

Chief executives from HSBC Holdings, Credit Suisse and Standard Chartered have also pulled out of the conference Tuesday, adding to the list of business leaders to abandon the event.

An introduction to the conference on its official website says it "will immerse thousands of delegates from all over the world in a rich agenda".

The Future Investment Initiative, hosted under the leadership Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, is set to be held on October 23-25.