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MbS to make first speech since Khashoggi's murder

Mohammed bin Salman during a Vision 2030 event [Getty]

Date of publication: 24 October, 2018

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The remarks will be the first public speech MbS gives since Khashoggi's murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October.

Saudi Arabia's crown prince will address the "Davos in the desert" conference in Riyadh, his first comments since dissident Jamal Khashoggi was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul three weeks ago.

Organisers of the glitzy investment forum, which has been plagued by major Western boycotts over Khashoggi's killing, listed Mohammed bin Salman as a "top speaker" for the second day of the three-day event.

MbS will likely appear on a panel alongside Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri, who was reportedly held against his will on the crown prince's orders and forced to resign last year from Riyadh before later rescinding the decision.

Saudi organisers of the conference have sought to portray it as business as usual, announcing 12 "mega deals" worth more than $50 billion in oil, gas, infrastructure and other sectors on the opening day of the forum.

Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih acknowledged, however, that the kingdom was in crisis  following the "abhorrent" murder of Khashoggi.

Saudi Arabia initially claimed Khashoggi left freely after visiting the consulate but, as international pressure mounted, the kingdom said he died inside the mission when an argument degenerated into a "fist fight". It later acknowledged that he had in fact been murdered, as Turkish officials said all along.

Turkish sources have long maintained that a team of 15 Saudi agents were sent to Istanbul and killed Khashoggi before departing from the capital that day.

The hit squad reportedly tortured Khashoggi, cut his fingers off and decapitated him with a bone saw brought from Saudi Arabia for that purpose, according to Turkish media.

Riyadh's changing narrative has triggered deep scepticism abroad.

The US said on Tuesday it was revoking the visas of Saudis implicated in the murder, as President Donald Trump ridiculed the kingdom's response as "one of the worst cover-ups" in history.

The move came as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a keenly anticipated speech on Tuesday that Khashoggi's killing inside the consulate had been meticulously planned.

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