IMF's Christine Lagarde postpones her Mideast trip, including the Saudi conference

  • The International Monetary Fund's Christine Lagarde has postponed her trip to the Middle East, according to an IMF statement on Wednesday.
  • Lagarde's visit to the region included attending the Future Investment Initiative, also known as "Davos in the Desert," in Saudi Arabia. The conference is scheduled for Oct. 23 to 25.
International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Christine Lagarde speaks during a press conference in Tokyo on October 4, 2018. 
Kazuhiro Nogi | AFP | Getty Images
International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Christine Lagarde speaks during a press conference in Tokyo on October 4, 2018. 

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde has postponed her trip to the Middle East, according to an IMF statement on Wednesday.

Lagarde's visit to the region included attending the Future Investment Initiative, also known as "Davos in the Desert," in Saudi Arabia. The conference is scheduled for Oct. 23 to 25.

"The Managing Director's previously scheduled trip to the Middle East region is being deferred," an IMF spokesperson said. The IMF did not give a reason for the postponement. CNBC has reached out to the IMF for clarification.

The investing event in Riyadh has seen mounting cancellations since the disappearance and suspected killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Turkish officials allege that he was murdered by a team of Saudi operatives, but Riyadh has fiercely denied the claim.

Media outlets including CNBC, Financial Times, CNN and The New York Times have also withdrawn from the event, citing concerns about Khashoggi's disappearance.

Several prominent business leaders have also said they will not be attending the event, including J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman and Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga.

Last week, Lagarde told reporters at the IMF and World Bank annual meetings in Bali, Indonesia, that while she was "horrified" at the disappearance and suspected killing of Khashoggi, she was still planning to attend the conference in Riyadh.

"I have to conduct the business of IMF in all corners of the world, and with many governments," she said at that time. "When I visit a country, I always speak my mind. You know me, I do. At this point in time, my intention is to not change my plan and to be very attentive to the information that is coming out in the next few days, but I speak my mind."

Khashoggi, who had been living in the United States as a voluntary exile from Saudi Arabia, was a prominent critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Saudi royal family. He was last seen on Oct. 2 when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Turkish officials told media outlets that Khashoggi was killed and dismembered with a bone saw inside the consulate. The Saudi government has denied those allegations.

An official told the Associated Press on Tuesday that a police search of the consulate found evidence that Khashoggi was slain there.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Saudi Arabia's King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed and Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir in Riyadh on Tuesday to discuss the matter. He is due to fly to the Turkish capital of Ankara on Wednesday to meet Turkish officials.

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