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A high-five from Putin and that awkward photograph - Saudi prince's G20 summit

Reuters  |  BUENOS AIRES 

By Cassandra Garrison

(Reuters) - Russian walked up to Saudi Arabia's Crown at a summit of world leaders, high-fived him and then shook his hand heartily. Moments earlier the had been pictured on the far edge of the traditional "family portrait" photograph, ignored by other leaders.

The two moments captured the dilemma facing world leaders at the Group of 20 summit in this weekend: How to deal with the crown prince, who is dogged by controversy over the murder of a Saudi but is also de facto of a rich, that is a major global investor.

To be sure Putin's exuberant greeting of the was seen as over the top and promptly went viral. But, while leaders appeared to ignore Prince Mohammed on stage during the "family photo," many went on to have closed-door bilateral meetings with him during the two-day summit.

The media office, in a statement responding to an earlier story about Prince Mohammed being sidelined in the photo, said he was standing "in the same proximity to the centre of the group" as in a similar photo at the summit in two years ago.

The crown prince, facing a global outcry over the killing of in the two months ago, had conversations with at least 12 world leaders.

Three of them, Canadian Justin Trudeau, British and French Emmanuel Macron, said publicly they had pressed Prince Mohammed for a full investigation into the murder.

has said the prince had no prior knowledge of Khashoggi's murder. Turkish has said the killing was ordered by the highest level of Saudi leadership but probably not Salman, putting the spotlight instead on the 33-year-old

Trudeau said he had a frank conversation with the prince at a leaders' dinner on Friday, telling him there was "a need for better answers on the killing of Khashoggi." May said she called for a full, credible and transparent investigation, while Macron insisted the allow international investigators to take part in any inquiry.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who has defended U.S. ties with Saudi Arabia, "exchanged pleasantries" with the crown prince, the said. Trump has said it may never be known if Prince Mohammed ordered the killing or not. Sources say the CIA believes the ordered the killing.


The crown prince also discussed investments and economic partnerships with Indian Narendra Modi and Readouts of those meetings did not say whether Xi and Modi had confronted the prince over the Khashoggi case.

"firmly supports in its drive for economic diversification and social reform, and will continue to stick together with on issues involving their core interests," Xi said, according to China's agency.

Modi and Prince Mohammed discussed scaling up investments in India's tech, farm and energy sectors, according to an Indian and the Saudi agency (SPA).

Before the start of the gathering, Argentinian President had said it was possible that the accusations against the crown prince could be discussed when the leaders convened.

In the end, they were not.

Days before the summit, called on to use a war crimes clause in its constitution to investigate any involvement by the crown prince in possible crimes against humanity in Yemen, where a Saudi-led military campaign is under way, and Khashoggi's murder.

The assigned to review the case had not announced whether a formal investigation would be opened by the close of the summit on Saturday.

(Reporting by Cassandra Garrison, editing by and Toby Chopra)

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, December 02 2018. 22:19 IST