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Saudi crown prince, Putin 'bro-five' at G20 summit

Mohammad bin Salman and Vladimir Putin catch up at the G20 summit [Getty]

Date of publication: 30 November, 2018

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With something between a high-five and a handshake, the Russian leader warmly welcomed Mohammad bin Salman in Argentina.

World leaders including a beaming Vladimir Putin greeted Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Friday at the G20 summit, his first encounter with Western leaders since the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

In an video that quickly went viral online, the Russian leader and the prince both beamed and clasped each other's hands like long-lost friends, an enthusiastic gesture labelled a bro-five on Twitter.

The embrace came amid reports that Russia and Saudi Arabia have reached a pact to cut oil production when the OPEC cartel meets on December 6 in Vienna, to help shore up collapsing crude prices.

The ambitious 33-year-old prince was also seen chatting with US President Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka, and shaking hands with French President Emmanuel Macron, at the start of the two-day meeting of the world's top economies in Buenos Aires.

The French presidency said that Macron conveyed "very firm" messages on the killing of Khashoggi and the Saudi-led offensive in Yemen, where millions are on the brink of starvation in what the United Nations calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Macron told Prince Mohammed that Europeans wanted international investigators to take part in the probe on Khashoggi's death and stressed "the necessity of a political solution in Yemen," the Elysee Palace said.

In the audio of the conversation, it's possible to make out the prince saying "Don't worry," to which Macron responds: "I am worried". Later in the one-minute clip posted on Twitter Macron says: "You never listen to me," and Mohammed bin Salman replies: "I will listen, of course."

Later, Prince Mohammed appeared to be sidelined during the official "family photo" of world leaders and other dignitaries, standing at the far edge of the group portrait and ignored, Reuters reported.

Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, quickly exited the stage without shaking hands or talking with other leaders.

British Prime Minister Theresa May was also expected to press MbS both on Yemen and Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor who was killed when visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

"The Saudi Arabians need to ensure that their investigation is a full investigation, that it's credible, that it's transparent, and that people can have confidence in the outcome of it, and that those responsible are held to account," May told Sky News.

Khashoggi's killing has sparked widespread outrage but Western powers have pledged to maintain close relations with Saudi Arabia, a top oil producer and buyer of US weapons.

Trump, in an exclamation point-heavy statement before the summit, said it did not matter whether Prince Mohammed knew about Khashoggi's death and that Saudi Arabia was important for business and for its hostility to Iran.

The US Senate nonetheless moved this week to end support for the Saudi-led war against rebels in Yemen amid outrage over attacks on civilian sites including a school bus and hospitals.

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