October 18, 2018 / 3:38 PM / in a month

U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin withdraws from Saudi conference

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin arrives at a White House reception for Congressional Medal of Honor recipients in the East Room of the White in Washington, U.S., September 12, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday said he would no longer attend next week’s investment conference in Saudi Arabia, as the Trump administration awaited the outcome of investigations into missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Mnuchin announced the decision in a post on Twitter following a meeting with President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who recently returned from meetings with top leaders in Riyadh and Ankara.

“Just met with @realDonaldTrump and @SecPompeo and we have decided, I will not be participating in the Future Investment Initiative summit in Saudi Arabia,” Mnuchin wrote on Twitter.

The Saudis have said they plan to move forward with the conference, scheduled for Oct. 23-25, despite a wave of cancellations by high-profile business, government and media leaders.

Mnuchin’s withdrawal comes after top financial, trade and foreign officials from Britain, France, Germany and the Netherlands also dropped out.

Trump has urged patience in the wake of U.S.-based Khashoggi’s disappearance earlier this month during a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and said he took the matter seriously.

Turkish officials have said they believe Khashoggi - a Washington Post columnist who was a strong critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - was murdered at the consulate and his body chopped up and removed.

Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Bernadette Baum

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