Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman greeted each other like old friends at the G20 summit in Argentina on Friday as other world leaders have distanced themselves from the Saudi leader following the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
As the leaders arrived at the summit, Putin and MBS, as he is known, were seen smiling and enthusiastically shaking one another’s hands.
Khashoggi disappeared after entering a Saudi consulate in Turkey. After offering shifting explanations for the disappearance, the Saudi kingdom eventually admitted Khashoggi was murdered and his body dismembered.
American intelligence officials believe the order for his death came directly from the crown prince, yet U.S. President Donald Trump has suggested he does not believe their assessment.
Trump was criticized broadly for his response to the Washington Post journalist’s death, with the president citing an arms deal as reason to maintain good relations with Saudi Arabia despite the incident. The White House was said to prevent CIA Director Gina Haspel from attending a closed-door briefing on the killing this week with senators, prompting more criticism.
MBS is expected to meet with just a few leaders at the summit in Buenos Aires, including Putin. French President Emmanuel Macron has also said he will meet with the Saudi leader.
Trump, who was seen passing by MBS and Putin without interacting with either, is not expected to meet with the crown prince. He told reporters he “exchanged pleasantries” with the Saudi leader but nothing more, adding that a meeting “might” happen, per CNN’s Jeff Zeleny.
Trump canceled his meeting with Putin on Thursday, citing clashes with Russian and Ukrainian military vessels.
The Russian coast guard attacked three Ukranian ships and their crews over the weekend. Trump’s announcement came shortly after his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about his contact with Russian officials in a real estate deal during the 2016 presidential election.