Top British diplomat to press Saudis over Khashoggi killing
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Britain’s top diplomat met Monday with King Salman in Saudi Arabia, where he was expected to press the kingdom to fully cooperate with a Turkish investigation into last month’s killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is the first British minister to visit Saudi Arabia since Khashoggi was killed in the consulate in Turkey on Oct. 2 by what Ankara says was an assassination squad sent for the writer, who was a critic of the crown prince.
The state-run Saudi News Agency said King Salman and Hunt discussed bilateral relations and the latest regional developments. Hunt is also scheduled to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Also in the kingdom was Simon McDonald, who serves as British Prime Minister Theresa May’s special envoy, and who also met the king and crown prince earlier. May has rebuffed calls from opposition lawmakers to end weapons sales to the kingdom in the wake of Khashoggi’s killing. However, in recent days Britain has backed renewed U.S. calls for a de-escalation of the conflict in Yemen.
Hunt is also to meet with Yemeni officials while in the region and travel to the United Arab Emirates to press for an end to the conflict in Yemen. Britain has backed renewed U.S. calls for a de-escalation of the war.
Hunt’s office said he is seeking support for new action in the U.N. Security Council to bolster the U.N.-led peace process.
“The only solution is now a political decision to set aside arms and pursue peace,” Hunt said ahead of his trip.
A Saudi-led coalition allied with the internationally recognized Yemeni government has been fighting Yemen’s Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, since 2015 in an attempt to restore the mostly exiled government to power.
The war has killed thousands of people pushed millions to the brink of starvation.