WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump no longer has any intention of meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as he had announced, but will get together with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has had tense relations with Riyadh because of the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Trump said last week that he would have a bilateral meeting with Bin Salman if both attended the meeting of G20 leaders, to be held in Buenos Aires this Friday and Saturday.
But now, even though Bin Salman will be there, Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton confirmed Tuesday that there won’t be a private meeting of the two.
“(Trump’s) bilateral schedule is full to overflowing at this point,” Bolton told a White House press conference.
That meeting would probably have angered many in the US Congress, where the controversy continues over the suspected murder of Khashoggi last October by Saudi agents, including some close to the crown prince.
Last week Trump issued a long statement denying that Bin Salman’s possible role in the death of the journalist was of any importance, and dismissed the idea that he planned to take punitive measures against Riyadh because of the slaying.
The US president does plan to meet in Buenos Aires with Erdogan, who has complained about the lack of collaboration by Saudi authorities in getting to the bottom of Khashoggi’s murder, which was perpetrated at the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul.
During his visit to Buenos Aires between Thursday and Saturday, Trump will also meet with Presidents Mauricio Macri of Argentina, Xi Jinping of China, Vladimir Putin of Russia, and Moon Jae-in of South Korea, as well as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India.