11/23/2018, 13.29
SAUDI ARABIA - GULF
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Khashoggi murder shadows economic and diplomatic tour of bin Salman

Mbs visits Emirates in first foreign trip since the murder of the Saudi dissident journalist. He should also participate in the G20 in Argentina later this month. Abu Dhabi confirms the alliance with Riyadh, which has "firm and deep roots". Turkish sources: the CIA has a recording in which the crowned prince gives orders to "silence" Khashoggi.

Riyadh (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Saudi hereditary prince Mohammed bin Salman last night arrived in the United Arab Emirates (Eau), the first stop on an economic and diplomatic tour that will touch different nations of the Arab world.

For the second most powerful man in the Wahhabi kingdom, it is the first trip abroad since the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, killed last October 2 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, many believe on  (Mbs) in orders despite of the official denials of Riyadh.

Bin Salman is also expected in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where at the end of the month a meeting of G20 leaders is scheduled with the most important heads of state and government. However, murder six weeks ago of the Washington Post editorialist has exacerbated more than one relationship between the West and Riyadh, which can count on the all-round defense of the White House.

On the eve of the departure King Salman asked the heir to the throne to undertake a tour "based on his ability" in knowing how to "strengthen the regional and international bonds of the kingdom". The official Saudi news agency reports that the Crown Prince will visit "a series of [Arabian] friendly states", without specifying them.

Abu Dhabi's counterpart Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nayhan, a close ally of Mbs, welcomed the crowned prince at the airport. "We are proud - he said - of our relationships whose roots are strong and deep. For our countries we are planning a close collaboration and a fruitful partnership ". The two leaders will discuss "regional and international" issues and the "challenges and threats that affect the Middle East region".

Meanwhile, inquiries into  murder of Khashoggi, which throws more than a shadow on the diplomatic tour and foreign trade of bin Salman. Yesterday a Turkish newspaper reported a telephone call in October between CIA director Gina Haspel and some senior Turkish officials, in which the US intelligence agency claims to have a "registration" in which Mbs gives instructions to "silence" the Saudi dissident journalist.

Riyadh has repeatedly denied that bin Salman has no direct knowledge of Khashoggi's death. When asked about the (presumed) registration, US President Donald Trump on a visit to Florida did not want to release official comments, reserving the right to speak directly with the CIA leaders.

If, on the one hand, the Allied Arab nations of Riyadh run to the defense of bin Salman, Qatar - for over a year protagonist of a harsh confrontation with Saudi Arabia - states that "whoever is responsible" of the journalist's murder dissident must be punished. On an official visit to Rome to attend a conference, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani added that Doha does not see an improvement in relations with the Saudis and will maintain close ties with Iran, in spite of US sanctions.

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