U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks with members of the media in Buenos Aires, Argentina, July 21, 2018. Mnuchin said Thursday that he will not attend an investment conference in Saudi Arabia. Mnuchin made the announcement on his Twitter account, saying that the decision was made after a White House meeting with President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Credit: Victor R. Caivano | AP

WASHINGTON — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday he would not attend the Future Investment Initiative summit in Saudi Arabia next week, delivering the Trump administration’s first formal rebuke of Saudi’s royal family following the suspected killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside a Saudi compound in Turkey.

Mnuchin made his announcement in a Twitter post, saying he’d met with President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo but did not explain the reasoning for his decision.

“Just met with @realDonaldTrump and @SecPompeo and we have decided, I will not be participating in the Future Investment Initiative summit in Saudi Arabia,” he wrote.

Khashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post, disappeared after entering a Saudi consulate in Turkey earlier this month. Turkish officials have alleged Kashoggi was killed inside the consulate by Saudi Arabian agents.

Mounting evidence suggests the Saudi government’s has knowledge of Khashoggi’s fate, as well as that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — one of Trump’s closest closest allies in the region — is somehow connected to Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Last week, even after reports surfaced about a possible link between the killing and Saudi’s royal family, Mnuchin expressed his intent to still attend the conference. But multiple financial executives and media outlets announced in recent days they would not attend the conference.

The meeting is one of the biggest international financial summits in the world, and it is seen as a major opportunity for Saudi officials to showcase their economy.

Trump has been less critical of Saudi Arabia’s response to Khashoggi’s disappearance than other U.S. officials, defending the regime as an ally and saying the public should wait for more information before forming a judgment.

But Mnuchin was under mounting pressure to withdraw. His top advisers had said in recent days that he was waiting for more information before deciding whether to attend.

Trump has tried to forge a close relationship with bin Salman, and the Saudi’s feted Trump with an elaborate celebration during a visit last year. Some Republicans have warned the White House was at risk of becoming too close with a Saudi ruling family that is known for brutal tactics against its own people.

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