Saudi Crown Prince Denounces Khashoggi Murder As "Heinous Crime"

Update: Appearing alongside the Crown Prince of Bahrain and Prime Minister of Lebanon (who, ironically, the Saudis once kidnapped), MbS briefly addressed the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, calling it a "heinous crime that cannot be justified", before focusing on his economic plans for the kingdom during his first public appearance since the diplomatic crisis sparked by Khashoggi's killing began.

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Hours after he reportedly spoke with Turkey's Erdogan during a brief phone call (their firs since Khashoggi's death), the Crown Prince said some had used the "painful" episode to drive a wedge between Turkey and KSA, the Financial Times reported. But he assured the crowd that this wouldn't be possible.

Asked about the Khashoggi killing, MbS reiterated that the perpetrators would face serious legal consequences, and that all legal measures were being taken to hold them to account.

"The crime was really painful to all Saudis," he said, according to Bloomberg. "We will present the perpetrators to the court."

Contrary to reports that the poor relationship between MbS and Erdogan had helped inflame the crisis, the Crown Prince defended KSA's relationship with Turkey, praised Erdogan and said that the diplomatic and economic relationships between the two countries would remain strong.

"They will not be able to do so as long as there is a King Salman, a Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and a president in Turkey called Erdogan," he said while speaking on a panel at the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh.

The Crown Prince's comments represent the most forceful repudiation of Khashoggi's killing since the country's energy minister decried Khashoggi's death as "abhorrent" during the opening day of the initiative.

After his brief remarks about the Khashoggi scandal, MbS turned to the subject of the Saudi economy, discussing his Vision 2030 mega-projects, which elicited several rounds of applause from the mostly Saudi audience. Notably, MbS included Qatar on a list of Arab countries that would benefit from Saudi Arabia's economic initiatives. He ended his talk by declaring that he plans to make the Middle East a "world leader" before closing with a little lighthearted humor about last year's kidnapping of Saad Hariri.

"I hope there will be no rumors that he has been kidnapped."

And with that, the panel ended.

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Following President Trump's claim, published in a WSJ interview, that he bears ultimate responsibility for the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is expected to address the crowd at the second Future Investment Initiative - better known as "Davos in the Desert."

This is the first time that MbS has spoken publicly since the diplomatic crisis sparked by Khashoggi's murder erupted earlier this month. The panel event where MbS is set to speak will begin at 10 am ET.

Watch MbS's remarks on the livestream below:

According to Saudi news agency Al-Arabiya, MbS is expected to make a "surprise" announcement during his remarks.