The crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, has been put on the brink of shooting the official ‘family photo’ of world leaders and other dignitaries at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires. The crown prince, the actual ruler of Saudi Arabia, quickly left the stage after taking the photo without shaking hands or talking to other leaders.
The presence of Prince Mohammed at the international summit is controversial after the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul in October.
Central to the photo was the Argentine president Mauricio Macri, who this year hosts the top of the industrialized countries of the G20. Macri said that the accusations that Prince Mohammed would have been involved in the death of Khashoggi by the world leaders at the two-day summit could be discussed. Saudi Arabia said that the prince had no prior knowledge of the murder.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prince Mohammed later exchanged a high-five, gave each other a handshake and laughed heartily when they took place side by side in the main meeting room.
Although the G20 was created in 1999 as a forum for collaboration and consultation, the context in which this summit takes place is one of great divisions.
Illegal unilateral sanctions
Shortly before the start of the G20 summit Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized the “perverse practice” of unilateral sanctions and trade protectionism. “One cannot accept that unfair competition is increasingly replacing a fair dialogue on the basis of equality between states,” Putin said during a meeting with the leaders of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa). “A perverse practice of using illegal unilateral sanctions and protectionist measures is spreading,” said Putin, whose country since 2014 has been the subject of severe European and US economic sanctions due to the Ukrainian crisis.
The statement comes after US President Donald Trump suddenly cancelled a bilateral meeting with Putin, in the margins of the summit. He did so because Russia hijacked three Ukrainian ships and captured their crew members.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders once again emphasized that the crisis in Ukraine is the reason for the cancellation. And not the investigation into a possible collusion between Trump and Moscow during the campaign of the previous American presidential elections. The investigation “unfortunately undermines our relationship with Russia,” she added.