Dutch minister cancels business trip to Saudi Arabia

By Abdullah Asiran

ROTTERDAM (AA) – Dutch foreign trade and development cooperation minister has canceled her visit to Saudi Arabia, the country's Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced Friday.

Having been scheduled for December, the business trip would include the minister Sigrid Kaag along with a high-profile delegation from the business community to discuss commercial relations.

Rutte emphasized that the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's confirmed murder was the main motive behind the cancelation.

In an earlier statement last week, the Netherlands' Foreign Ministry announced that Finance Minister Wophe Hoekstra canceled her visit to the investment conference to be held in Riyadh on Oct. 23-25 — under the auspices of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman.

The statement had read that the planned commercial relation visits were not currently at a reasonable political level.

A columnist for the Washington Post, Khashoggi was last seen on Oct. 2 when he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

After days of denying any knowledge of his whereabouts, Saudi officials last week admitted that Khashoggi had died inside the consulate building.

In hopes of defusing the international furor over the journalist’s demise, Saudi King Salman sacked the deputy head of the Saudi intelligence agency (and a top aide), while also ordering the arrest of 18 individuals suspected of involvement in the case.

On Sunday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir admitted that Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate, but insisted that Mohamed bin Salman — Saudi Arabia’s high-profile crown prince — had been unaware of it.

*Ali Murat Alhas contributed to this report from Ankara