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Macron Hosts MBS Regardless of Outrage over Khashoggi Murder
By Staff, Agencies
French President Emmanuel Macron is hosting Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman [MBS] for talks in Paris on Thursday, regardless of criticism that the invitation is deeply inappropriate barely four years after the murder by Saudi agents of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The meeting is seen as the latest step in the readmission of the de-facto ruler of the kingdom into the international fold, after US President Joe Biden met him earlier this month.
The topics set to loom over the meeting include energy supply as concern grows over possible power shortages in wake of the Russian military operation in Ukraine, as well as reining in the nuclear program of Riyadh's top regional foe Iran.
"I feel profoundly troubled by the visit, because of what it means for our world and what is means for Jamal [Khashoggi] and people like him," Amnesty International secretary general Agnes Callamard told AFP, describing MBS as a man who "does not tolerate any dissent."
The visits mark MBS' first trip to the EU since the murder of Khashoggi by Saudi agents at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul in 2018, a crime that a UN probe described as an "extrajudicial killing for which Saudi Arabia is responsible."
It also said there was "credible evidence" warranting further investigation of the individual liability of high-level Saudi officials, including MBS.
US intelligence agencies determined that MBS had "approved" the operation that led to Khashoggi's death, though Riyadh denies this, blaming rogue operatives.
The killing drew outrage not just over the elimination of a prominent critic of the Saudi regime, but also for the manner in which it was carried out. Khashoggi was lured into the Saudi consulate on October 2, 2018, strangled and dismembered, reportedly with a bonesaw.
His reception by world leaders is "all the more shocking given many of them at the time expressed disgust [over the killing] and a commitment not to bring MBS back into the international community," Callamard added, denouncing the "double standard."
But despite the concern over Saudi Arabia's rights record, the kingdom is seen by many in the West as an essential partner due to its energy resources, purchases of weaponry and staunch opposition to Iran.
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