Pompeo meets king as Saudis expected to say journalist killed accidentally


Is in Saudi Arabia meeting with the Saudi King and crown prince hanging over all the handshakes, and smiles is the disappearance of a Saudi journalist Jamal kashogi who has not been seen since he walked into the Saudi consulate in stumbled Turkey two weeks ago. Turkey says the Saudis killed him NPR's. Michelle Kellerman is traveling with the secretary of state, which means she too is in Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh. Hi, michelle. Hi there. Mary louise. So I'm going to get to the substance of these talks today in a minute but start with the optics. They are tricky. I I mentioned friendly handshakes. And smiles, meanwhile, the agenda is to discuss an alleged murder plot by the Saudis. Yeah. It was kind of striking because you know, on the face of it looked like this, very typical. Visit by secretary of state going to see the king at his palace. A brief stop at the foreign. Ministry and a lot of time with the crown prince Mohammad bin Salman, who's this young very powerful figure here. We're told that the conversations have been direct and candid, diplo speak for quite tough. But you wouldn't know it by watching these men, greedy niche other in front of the cameras and talking about how important this relationship is talk about the substance. What did they say to each other in these direct and candid talks? Well, they've the US officials have said very little about that. I mean, they say that Trump sent Pompeii oh here to convey, the message that it's really important for the Saudis to conduct a thorough transparent investigation into the disappearance of this Washington Post columnist US officials haven't weighed in about all of these reports in the news at the Saudis are now portraying this as like interrogation gone horribly wrong. We don't know exactly how the Saudis have been spending this with bump AO in private or. Or if he believes them, but we do know that President Trump seems to at least according to his Twitter feed. Trump says he spoke by phone to the ground prints who was with Pompeii or at the time. And he says that the crown prince, and this is a quote on Twitter, totally denied any knowledge of what took place in the consulate. It does seem as the pump AO has been sent to walk this really fine line. President Trump has threatened severe punishment has words to whoever's responsible for Jamal kashogi disappearance, maybe murder, but but there's also a lot more at stake here in the in the wider US Saudi relationship in this country. Mary Louise is is really key to the Mideast strategy of the Trump administration. There are big US arms deals at stake, the US policy on Iran is is vital here. The sanctions are going back into force and the the US needs the Saudis to keep the oil market stable. And then on the other hand the administration is facing a lot of pressure from congress members of congress are outraged over this apparent murder in the consulate in Istanbul and over the Saudi conduct in the war in Yemen. So I think you're totally right there. The administration is trying to walk. This very fine line secretary Pompeo is headed next which means you are headed next to the capital of Turkey. To anchor of what's the agenda there? Well, he's going to be meeting with the foreign minister there, obviously Turkey is also really important ally in a country that wants to get to the bottom of this to valise in Turkey today were searching the Saudi consulate and say they found evidence that the Saudi journalists was killed there. So it's going to be to follow up on those investigations. MPR's Michelle Kellerman. Reporting from Saudi Arabia is not just governments figuring out how to deal with Saudi Arabia's role and the suspected death of Jamal kashogi. Major corporations are sensing themselves from the kingdom top executives have pulled out of an investment conference scheduled to take place in Riyadh next week. They include leaders of J P Morgan and Ford Andrew Ross Sorkin of the New York Times also planned to attend and moderate panels. Not only did he pull out. He is also now reporting on how CEO's made the decision to withdraw from the Saudi conference and he joins us. Now. Welcome. Thank you for. Having me you say this incident is forcing business executives to become reluctant statesman. Why reluctant well, I think that over the past year or two really under the Trump administration CEO's have been forced into these uncomfortable positions of having to speak out on moral issues. This conference in Riyadh known as Davos in. The desert has become a crucible of sorts for so many CEO's over the past week. And all of the being done without really direction from Washington. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin is still going CEO's have been

Coming up next