Saudi Crown Prince: no wedge between Riyadh and Turkey

Arab world progress is set to make region unrecognisable, says Mohammed bin Salman

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Saudi Arabia will not allow "killing" to drive a wedge between the kingdom and Turkey, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said as he made his first public comments on the death of Jamal Khashoggi at their consulate in Istanbul.

Addressing the Future Investment Initiative (FII) economic conference in Riyadh, the crown prince called Khashoggi’s murder “a heinous crime that cannot be justified.” He added that Saudi authorities were carrying out all legal procedures to investigate and present the guilty for trial.

"The crime was really painful to all Saudis and I believe it is painful to every human in the world," he said, before promising to co-operate with the Turkish government to finalise the investigation.

"Many people are using this painful thing to drive a wedge between Saudi Arabia and Turkey," he added, before saying they would not be able to do that as long as the Saudi King, the Saudi Crown Prince and Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are alive.

As the crown prince took to the stage, the Saudi Press Agency reported that he had called the Turkish president to discuss "the necessary steps” to shed light on the murder.


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The conversation comes a day after Mr Erdogan gave a widely anticipated speech to reveal the "naked truth" about the killing, however, he gave scant new information regarding the case.

Prince Mohammed on Wednesday announced a reform of the country's national security institutions and promised to co-operate with Turkey in the investigation into the killing after Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate on October 2.

"Saudi Arabia has taken huge steps in developing the Saudi economy and restructuring many institutions. Today it is time to restructure National Security institutions in Saudi Arabia," he said.

The latest developments come after the US and UK said they would look to cancel visas for the men suspected of carrying out the murder.

"The cover-up was horrible. The execution was horrible," US President Donald Trump said late Tuesday night at the White House. "But there should have never been an execution or a cover-up because it should have never happened."

Prince Mohammed was accompanied on the FII panel by Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri and Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa.

Prince Mohammed celebrated the economic and social reforms passed in the kingdom in recent years saying that he believes the economy will continue to grow at 2.5 per cent a year. He also discussed his vision for the future of the region that he described as a “war” to return the Middle East to past glory.

“I think that the Middle East is going to become the new Europe. In the next five years we will witness a significant advancements across the region, and SaudiArabia will transform completely,” he said.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (C) arrives to attend a session during the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference in the capital Riyadh on October 24, 2018. Saudi Arabia is hosting the key investment summit overshadowed by the killing of critic Jamal Khashoggi that has prompted a wave of policymakers and corporate giants to withdraw. / AFP / FAYEZ NURELDINE
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrives for a session at the 2018 Future Investment Initiative confernece in Riyadh. This year's event is expected to attract even more attention. AFP

Notably, as the crown prince discussed the achievements of GCC states, he said Saudi, Bahrain and other Arab countries will be unrecognisable in five years given the speed of their progress - including Qatar, he added, "despite the disagreements".

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with the peninsular kingdom last year citing Qatar’s support for militant and terrorist groups that were destabilising the region. It was isolated the small nation and issued a list of 13 demands regarding foreign and domestic policy as a requirement to end the standoff.

Praising the achievements of the UAE, he said that the rapid development had begun years ago when Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, had laid out a vision for the future of the region. He said Dubai had "raised the bar" for the kingdom 1990s and he also praised Abu Dhabi.

Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman thanked the UAE, Saudi Arabia and other GCC economies for their financial assistance in recent years. The Bahrain Crown Prince explained that although they had diversified their economy, they will have to restructure their economy.

"We need to move from an oil economy to a smart oil economy," Bahrain's crown prince said.

Prince Salman said the success of Saudi Arabia was "contagious" in the region and praised so-called giga-projects.

After Prince Mohammed finished describing his view of the region, Mr Hariri was asked the same question. “We will be with the crown prince in the economic reform process,” he said.

The session started with a soundscape of people talking about how they triumphed against adversity, disrupting their industries.

Then a voice explained how Marie Curie, Thomas Edison and Mark Zuckerberg changed the world, saying "they were just dreamers", followed by a futuristic dance and video covering issues of transportation and population.

The FII began on Tuesday with 25 preliminary agreements for deals worth $50 billion.

The Crown Prince appeared in front of delegates on the first day of the forum but did not make a statement.

Representatives from across the business world are attending the forum, which is a way for the country to encourage international partners to do business in Saudi Arabia and to tell the world about its Vision 2030 programme.

The Crown Prince introduced the world to Vision 2030 last year, which aims to diversify Saudi Arabia's economy away from oil, attract foreign investment and encourage tourism.

This year's forum has coincided with the disappearance of Khashoggi in Turkey, which led to international outcry.

Some delegates and media partners did not attend the forum over the incident.


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