October 19, 2018 / 11:05 AM / 10 months ago

Airbus defence Hoke to skip Saudi investment conference

BERLIN, Oct 19 (Reuters) - Airbus said its defence chief Dirk Hoke will no longer attend the Future Investment Initiative conference in Saudi Arabia, the latest senior industry executive to skip next week’s event amid concern about the fate of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The European aerospace group said it was monitoring the situation and international discussions carefully.

“A guideline has been issued to abstain from high profile engagements at this point in time. However, we believe it is important to maintain engagement and dialogue in a country which hosts about 1,000 of our employees,” a spokesman said.

Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and Washington Post columnist critical of Riyadh’s policies, disappeared on Oct. 2 after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Turkey believes he was murdered and his body removed. Saudi Arabia has denied that.

The investment summit, dubbed Davos in the Desert, in Riyadh typically attracts executives from some of the world’s largest companies and media organizations.

Many of those slated to attend, including U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, have cancelled their participation, but the Saudis have said they plan to move forward with the conference, scheduled for Oct. 23-25. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal; editing by Thomas Seythal)

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