G20 summit: Rishi Sunak did not raise murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Mohammed bin Salman meeting

Mohammed bin Salman is accused of ordering the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

Rishi Sunak did not raise the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi when he met Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and prime minister Mohammed bin Salman, Downing Street has said.

No 10 said the two leaders had a “fairly lengthy discussion” on social reforms, women’s rights and civil liberties during their talks on the margins of the G20 summit in Bali. But he did not raise the assassination of Mr Khashoggi, who was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018. The Gulf state’s leader is accused of ordering the murder.

US President Joe Biden raised the issue in his own talks with the crown prince in July, indicating that he thought the Saudi leader was personally responsible for the killing of the writer. But Downing Street said Mr Sunak “didn’t raise specific individual cases” as “that’s not normally the norm in these sorts of things”.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “They had a fairly lengthy discussion on some of the work by Saudi Arabia in recent years to improve on social reforms. They talked about issues like women’s rights and the need for more progress on freedoms in the kingdom.”

Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia are seen during a bilateral meeting at the G20 Summit. Credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images

The talks were held at a luxury resort hotel in Bali, Indonesia, on the first day of the gathering of leaders of the world’s major economies - the G20. Sunak has already spoken out against Russia and China, who are attending the summit.

Speaking ahead of their full bilateral meeting, Sunak said he looked forward to “working together to the benefit of both of our countries and indeed tackle some of these global challenges that we were talking about this morning”. That was expected to include a plea for Riyadh to produce more oil and gas in response to the disruption of supplies from Russia.

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi attends a press conference in the Bahraini capital Manama. Picture: Mohammed Al-Shaikh//AFP/Getty Images

Saudi Arabia, which leads the Opec alliance of oil-producing nations, has faced criticism for agreeing to cut production starting in November despite global shortages. The move strained relations with western nations including the US, which said the cut effectively benefits Russia, another Opec member, at a time when they are trying to choke off Moscow’s oil revenue to undercut its war in Ukraine.

A Downing Street spokesman said the two leaders “discussed the importance of continued UK-Saudi co-operation in the face of regional security threats and international economic instability”.

He said: “In light of the global increase in energy prices sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Prime Minister said he hoped the UK and Saudi Arabia could continue to work together to stabilise energy markets. The leaders also shared their concern over threats to peace and security in the Middle East, including Iran’s destabilising activity in the region.”