Emmanuel Macron speaks during an election campaign event in Arras, France, (Photographer: Christophe Morin/Bloomberg )

Macron Suspends French Political Visits To Saudi Arabia

(Bloomberg) -- President Emmanuel Macron said France has suspended political visits to Saudi Arabia in coordination with Germany, the U.K. and the Netherlands as he awaits “clarifications” on the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“In the current circumstances we have decided to suspended some visits, political ones,” Macron told reporters in Brussels on Thursday after a summit of European leaders. He said that Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire’s planned trip to the kingdom’s economic forum next week would not now go ahead. The decision does not affect private individuals or business people.

Macron said that he discussed the decision with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, the U.K.’s Theresa May and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. The French leader said it had “to be done in the short term given the seriousness of the facts and the absence of clarification on these elements.”

France joins a wave of countries and companies that have said they will boycott the Saudi event amid reports that the U.S.-based journalist was ambushed and killed within the consulate in Istanbul by Saudi agents. Macron, who visited Saudi Arabia last year, said the facts of Khashoggi’s disappearance were “extremely worrying.”

When asked about the fate of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his position at the Royal court, Macron said “it is not for me to comment on internal political situations of any other country, nor the psychological or security aspects in those.”

President Donald Trump is facing increased pressure from Congress over his handling of Khashoggi’s disappearance, exposing a widening rift between the White House and Capitol Hill over the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said he expects Turkish and Saudi Arabian investigations to reveal a “complete picture” of what happened to Khashoggi.

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