Modi to meet tainted Saudi Arabian prince at G20 summit

Modi to meet tainted Saudi Arabian prince at G20 summit

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi steps off his plane upon arrival at Ezeiza International airport in Buenos Aires province, on November 29, 2018. - Global leaders gather in the Argentine capital for a two-day G20 summit beginning on Friday likely to b

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to meet Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad bin Salman al Saud, in Buenos Aires, notwithstanding the global outrage against the young royal for the recent brutal killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul. 

Modi arrived in Buenos Aires on Thursday to take part in the G20 summit scheduled to be held in the capital of Argentina on Friday and Saturday. He is likely to have a bilateral meeting with 'MBS' – the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia – at around 1:45 a.m. (Indian Standard Time) on Friday. 

Riyadh of late reached out to New Delhi seeking the bilateral meeting between MBS and Modi on the sideline of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires – ostensibly as part of a move by Saudi Arabia to make it sure that its Crown Prince would not remain a pariah during the summit, sources said. 

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) – a worldwide organization – recently petitioned Argentinian Government to prosecute the Saudi Arabian prince on his arrival in Buenos Aires for a series of crimes against humanity, including causing deaths of civilians during the Riyadh-backed war in Yemen and the torture of Saudi Arabian citizens themselves. 

The son and heir apparent of Saudi Arabia's ruler King Salman was initially lauded internationally for bringing in several reforms in the country which strictly follows Wahhabi Islamic laws – like restricting powers of religious police and lifting the ban on women driving cars. 

But brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi at the Consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul last month triggered an outrage against MBS, with speculation rife that the Crown Prince himself ordered or knew about the killing. Khashoggi, a columnist of Washington Post, was a known critic of Saudi Arabia's royal family. 

The Crown Prince is participating in the G20 summit on behalf of his father King Salman – apparently in an attempt to restore his international acceptance. 

Though the leaders of some western democracies are likely to avoid meeting MBS on the sideline of the summit, US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are likely to hold bilateral consultations with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. 

Modi too agreed to meet the young royal. 

Sources said that New Delhi agreed for a meeting between Prime Minister and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia in view of its relations with Riyadh. 

“Saudi Arabia has been a valuable partner (of India). The relationship has expanded beyond the Indian community (in Saudi Arabia) to the economy, energy and security,” sources said in New Delhi. “All issues of bilateral and regional interest will be discussed.”  

Argentina's federal prosecutor Ramiro Gonzálezformally asked Judge Ariel Lijo, a federal judge, to examine the HRW's November 26 submission to request information from the Saudi Arabian and Yemeni Governments about whether they are investigating the allegations. He also asked for the Foreign Ministry of Argentina to provide information about the Crown Prince’s diplomatic status.

Crown Prince is enjoying diplomatic immunity during his visit to Argentina 

The judge still sent information requests to the Turkish and Yemeni governments and the International Criminal Court (ICC) inquiring about whether they are investigating the allegations. He also sent a request to the Argentine Foreign Ministry on the question of the crown prince's immunity and diplomatic status. Neither Saudi Arabia or Yemen are members of the ICC.