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Lagarde ‘horrified’ by missing journalist case, but will attend Saudi conference


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Nusa Dua (Indonesia), Oct 13 (IANS) International Monetary Fund Director-General Christine Lagarde on Saturday said that she was "horrified" by reports about the fate of missing Saudi journalist but still plans to attend a business forum in Riyadh this month as she has "to conduct the business of the IMF in all corners in the world".

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared last week from his country’s consulate in Istanbul where he went for paperwork to marry his Turkish fiancée. Turkish intelligence officials say they have audio and visual evidence that shows he was killed inside the consulate.

Saudi Arabia, however, firmly denies any involvement in his disappearance.

Lagarde, who was addressing reporters at the closing press conference of the IMF World Bank annual meeting in Bali, said: "At this point in time, my intention is to not change my plan and to be very attentive to the information that is coming up in the next few days."

She said despite being "horrified" by the reports she has "to conduct the business of the IMF in all corners in the world", Efe news reported.

In the last few hours, several sponsors and guests have announced their withdrawal from the Future Investment Initiative, also known as "Davos in the Desert", scheduled to take place between October 23-25.

Among them was World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, who already informed Saudi authorities that he would skip the conference, without giving a reason, reports said.

US television channel CNBA tweeted that it would not be attending the forum in Riyadh "due to the continuing questions surrounding the disappearance of Khashoggi".

CNN on Friday said it had "withdrawn its participation" while Andrew Ross Sorkin, a columnist for The New York Times, also announced skipping the conference.

CNBC, the Financial Times and Bloomberg too cancelled their participation.

Hosted by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud, the event is designed to showcase his Vision 2030 plan to break the country’s dependence on oil.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who was also in Bali for the IMF meetings, said he still intended to go the event.

The Turkish government has not officially responded to claims by friends and colleagues, who fear the 59-year-old Saudi national was murdered inside the consulate.

Khashoggi has had long-standing ties to the Saudi royal family, but has written critically of the current government and the Saudi Crown Prince.

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of the Interior, Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud Naif bin Abdulaziz, has condemned and dismissed reports that the journalist was murdered as "lies and baseless allegations", the state-run Saudi Press Agency said on Friday.

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