Saudi Crown Prince skips Malaysia, Indonesia in Asia tour

Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. — file pic
Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. — file pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 16 — Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammed bin Salman will be postponing his visit to Malaysia and Indonesia in his tour of several Asian countries, the Foreign Ministry said today.

Prince Mohammed was initially scheduled to make a maiden visit to Malaysia starting tomorrow and inaugurate the Refinery & Petrochemical Complex of Pengerang Refining and Petrochemical (PRefChem) in Kuala Lumpur.

“Yes postpone his visit to Msia + Indonesia,” Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah told Malay Mail, without elaborating further.

US paper Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Mohammed’s tour of five Asian countries — China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Malaysia — was aimed at building alliances in the region, amid increasingly rocky relations with the West due to the murder of Saudi dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the Saudi-led war in Yemen that has reportedly killed more than 10,000 people since 2015.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad later reportedly said that Mohammed did not give a reason for the cancellation of his trip to Malaysia.

US intelligence the CIA reportedly concluded last November that Prince Mohammed, popularly known as MBS, had ordered the assassination of Washington Post columnist Khashoggi, who was allegedly killed by Saudi agents in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, last October. Riyadh has reportedly denied the prince’s involvement.

MIDF Amanah Investment Bank had told national newswire Bernama that Prince Mohammed’s trip to Malaysia would likely lead to increased investments in the Petronas Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (RAPID) project in Pengerang, Johor.