- Key members of Donald Trump’s inner circle will attend the Saudi economic forum known as “Davos in the Desert” one year after shunning it in the aftermath of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.
- US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner will fly to Riyadh for the Future Investment Initiative (FII,) Quartz reported Monday.
- In October 2018, Mnuchin abandoned plans to attend the conference after talks with Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
- He never specified why he didn’t attend, but the conference took place just weeks after Khashoggi’s killing.
- The conference in Riyadh, which takes place from October 29 to October 31, 2019, will see financiers, governments, and industry leaders meet to discuss global trade.
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Members of Donald Trump’s cabinet will attend the Saudi economic forum nicknamed “Davos in the Desert” a year after boycotting it in the aftermath of the the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trump’s advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner will attend the forum, known formally as the Future Investment Initiative (FII,) Quartz reported on Monday.
Last year Mnuchin dropped out of the forum, acting on advice from Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
—Steven Mnuchin (@stevenmnuchin1) October 18, 2018
No further explanation was given, but the decision was likely a response to the global condemnation of Saudi Arabia and its Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the disappearance of Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who had written for the Washington Post.
The conference’s third iteration will be held in Riyadh from October 29 to October 31, and will see financiers, governments, and industry leaders meet to discuss global trade and investment.
The US state department has spent $60,000 on 45 rooms at Riyadh’s Burj Rafal Hotel from October 22 to October 31 in connection with two “VVIP visitors,” according to a state department filing seen by Business Insider.
The Washington Post first reported that Kushner would lead the US delegation to the FII.
The FII is hosted by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, which presides over around $320 billion of the government’s money, according to the Financial Times.
The FII has not publicly announced any keynote speakers yet, despite the event starting in just seven days time.
“Tom Barrack, a longtime Trump friend; David Malpass, president of the World Bank; and Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican and former House majority leader” will attend the FII, the Washington Post reported on September 30.
The US and Saudi Arabia have deepened ties in recent months over a shared foe in Iran, following Iran’s violation of an international nuclear agreement in July and the bombing of a Saudi Aramco oil facility in September, which Saudi Arabia and the US have blamed on Iran.
At first the Saudi government vehemently denied any involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance, but on October 19, the day after Mnuchin announced he would miss the 2018 edition of the forum, they admitted Khashoggi died in the consulate, claiming he was killed in a fistfight.
Reports and audio from inside the consulate have since revealed that Khashoggi was drugged, suffocated, and then dismembered with with Turkish authorities say was a bone saw.
Business Insider contacted the US Treasury Department for comment, but is yet to receive a response.