June 29, 2019 / 3:34 PM / 3 months ago

Dutch queen criticized over meeting with Saudi prince

Queen Maxima of the Netherlands speaks at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2019 (GES 2019) in The Hague, Netherlands June 4, 2019. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A United Nations official on Saturday joined Dutch lawmakers in criticizing Queen Maxima over a meeting she held with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka this week.

U.N. rapporteur on extrajudicial executions Agnes Callamard told newspaper Algemeen Dagblad it was “more than disappointing” that the Dutch queen had apparently not raised the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi with the Saudi prince.

“It’s one thing (for her) to meet this man, it’s something else to remain silent,” Callamard was quoting as saying.

Callamard authored a U.N. report that found high-level Saudi officials including Crown Prince Salman should be investigated for the October 2018 killing of Khashoggi in a Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The Dutch Royal House could not immediately be reached for comment, but local media cited a statement from the royals as confirming that the meeting had taken place. It added that it had been obligatory for the queen to meet the crown prince because Saudi Arabia will host the next G-20.

Maxima, an Argentine who married the Dutch crown prince in 2002, had addressed the G-20 in Japan about women’s empowerment.

The Saudi Center for International Communication published a photo of the meeting on Twitter, saying “many topics were on the table” during their conversation.

Callamard’s comments followed rare criticism of the royals by Dutch lawmakers, several of whom said they would table the matter for discussion in parliament on Monday.

“Whoever approved this conversation between Maxima and the Saudi crown prince understands nothing of diplomacy and even less about what’s good public relations,” Sjoerd Sjoerdsma of the centrist D-66 Party, a member of the governing coalition, said in a statement on Twitter.

Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Helen Popper

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