BUENOS AIRES — Under pressure over the furor sparked by the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman on Friday defied expectations he would be shunned by world leaders at the G-20 summit that kicked off Friday in Buenos Aires.
Russian President Vladimir Putin greeted the prince with an energetic handshake and a broad smile, and Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri, the summit host, was planning to privately meet with him on Saturday, Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie announced.
The White House said President Trump “exchanged pleasantries” Friday with the crown prince, the de facto leader of the oil-rich kingdom, and there were reports the prince has had private conversations and exchanges with French President Emmanuel Macron and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, among others.
In the days leading up to the weekend summit, the crown prince had come under increasing pressure after U.S. and Turkish intelligence concluded he had almost certainly known of the plot against Khashoggi, a U.S.-based dissident Saudi journalist, who was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on Oct. 2 by a high-level Saudi “hit team.”
Speculation had been rife that the heir might face “pariah” status in Buenos Aires, where he had been holed up at his country’s embassy since his Wednesday arrival.
Mr. Faurie, whose ministry had earlier tried to shield the prince from a criminal complaint by invoking his “special immunity,” said the encounter with Mr. Macri was motivated by the nations’ close commercial ties.
British Prime Minister Theresa May, for her part, surprised observers when she requested her own bilateral meeting with the heir to the Saudi throne. That meeting was set to take place late Friday.