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Saudi crown prince looks to Asia trip to boost image

Facing fallout in the West over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hopes his upcoming trip to Asia will project an image of business as usual.
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is pictured while meeting with the Tunisian President during his arrival at the presidential palace in Carthage on the eastern outskirts of the capital Tunis on November 27, 2018. (Photo by FETHI BELAID / AFP)        (Photo credit should read FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is traveling to five Asian countries later this month in his first foreign travels since the G-20 summit in Argentina. The Saudis desperately want to portray this as a business as usual trip, suggesting the fallout from the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul is over. Details of the itinerary have been kept vague, probably for security reasons and fears of hostile demonstrations.

The crown prince, commonly referred to by his initials MBS, will first travel to Pakistan on Sunday. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan was one of a handful of foreign leaders to visit Riyadh last October for an investment conference that was boycotted by most investors because of the premeditated murder of Khashoggi on Oct. 2. The crown prince is widely believed to have ordered the murder and dispatched a team of his henchmen to carry out the gruesome killing. The White House continues to try to shield him from investigation and sanctions, but the media and Congress are determined to hold him accountable.

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