Treasury Secretary Mnuchin to Attend Saudi Investment Conference
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other Trump administration officials will attend a high-profile investment conference in Saudi Arabia next week, a year after the United States shunned the gathering amid backlash surrounding the killing of a dissident Saudi journalist.
The Treasury Department confirmed that Mr. Mnuchin will be participating in the Future Investment Initiative gathering in Riyadh. Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, will also be attending the conference, alongside Brian H. Hook, the State Department’s special envoy overseeing Iran policy and Avi Berkowitz, an aide to Mr. Kushner, according to people familiar with the matter.
Mr. Mnuchin is expected to participate in a moderated discussion at the event. He initially planned to attend last year, but reversed that decision as global outrage mounted over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post writer, whose killing in Turkey was orchestrated by the Saudi government.
Saudi agents killed and dismembered Mr. Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman emerged as a primary suspect, believed by Western intelligence agencies to have at least been complicit in the killing, if not to have ordered it.
While Mr. Mnuchin did not attend last year’s conference, he still traveled to Riyadh and met with Prince Mohammed, where they discussed economic ties and counterterrorism initiatives, as well as the investigation into Mr. Khashoggi’s death.
His participation in the conference this year will come amid a broader international trip that includes stops in Israel and India.
Other leaders of international institutions that shunned Saudi Arabia are also planning to return this month. David Malpass, the new president of the World Bank, is expected to be in attendance. Last year, Jim Yong Kim, his predecessor, withdrew from there conference, where he was supposed to be a speaker.
A year ago, Christine Lagarde, then the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, also defected from the conference. This year, her successor Kristalina Georgiva, will be traveling to Thailand instead of Saudi Arabia, but Jihad Azour, director of the Middle East and Central Asia Department at the Fund, plans to speak on a panel at the conference. The fund said that a scheduling conflict was the reason for Ms. Georgiva’s absence.
Lawrence Summers, the Harvard economist and former Treasury Secretary, who attended the conference in 2017 is not returning next week. He also cited timing as the reason.
“Teaching and other commitments caused me not to consider,” Mr. Summers said in an email.
The conference will be held at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh, where the Saudi government held Saudi princes and businessmen captive in 2017.
Alan Rappeport is an economic policy reporter, based in Washington. He covers the Treasury Department and writes about taxes, trade and fiscal matters in the era of President Trump. He previously worked for The Financial Times and The Economist. @arappeport
Maggie Haberman is a White House correspondent. She joined The Times in 2015 as a campaign correspondent and was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for reporting on Donald Trump’s advisers and their connections to Russia. Previously, she worked at Politico, The New York Post and The New York Daily News. @maggieNYT
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