NUSA DUA, Indonesia – The International Monetary Fund Director-General Christine Lagarde said on Saturday that she would attend a business forum in Saudi Arabia amid reports that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared last week from his country’s consulate in Istanbul.
Khashoggi, an outspoken critic of the Saudi government, has not been seen since entering the consulate on Oct. 2.
Lagarde was addressing reporters at the closing press conference of the IMF World Bank annual meeting in Bali, Indonesia.
“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,” Lagarde said.
The IMF chief was “horrified” by the reports but said she has “to conduct the business of the IMF in all corners in the world.”
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 Oct. 23-25.
Among them is World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, who has already informed Saudi authorities that he would skip the conference, without giving a reason, a source with knowledge of the decision, told EFE.
US television channel CNBA tweeted that it would not be attending the forum in Riyadh “due to the continuing questions surrounding the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.”
In a statement on Friday, CNN said it had “withdrawn its participation” while Andrew Ross Sorkin, a columnist for The New York Times, said on Twitter he will not be taking part in the conference owing to the Khashoggi’s disappearance.
News agency Bloomberg has also cancelled its participation.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who was also in Bali for the IMF meetings, told reporters on Saturday that he still intended to go the event.
Jamal Khashoggi has not been seen since he entered the consulate building on Oct. 2 to sign documents to marry his Turkish fiancee, Hatice Cengiz.
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, a former ally of the Saudi royals, distanced himself from the monarchy in 2017 when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gained power.
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.