May urges Saudi prince to cooperate with Khashoggi investigation

PM asks Bin Salman at G20 to take action over incident and to seek a solution to the war in Yemen

Theresa May declined to discuss trade with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, when the pair met face-to-face at the G20 summit, raising instead the conflict in Yemen and the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

May’s spokesman said that she stressed the need for Saudi Arabia to “take action to build confidence that such a deplorable incident could not happen again” when speaking about the murder of the journalist at the Saudi embassy in Turkey.

May had to navigate a diplomatic minefield at their first meeting since the growing toll of the war in Yemen and the murder of the Washington Post columnist in Istanbul led to a deterioration in UK-Saudi relations.

It was Downing Street’s intention for the meeting to focus entirely on these issues, rather than trade, a senior UK official said. That was a mark of how seriously May was treating the issues of the Yemen war and the Khashoggi killing, given how the British government has been prioritising a post-Brexit trade offensive.

May has publicly expressed no opinion on the crown prince’s prior knowledge of Khashoggi’s killing and a UK government official suggested she would not directly confront that aspect of his death, though she impressed upon the crown prince the need to identify the individuals responsible for all stages leading up to the killing.

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