Tony Blair Institute kept working with Saudi Arabia despite Khashoggi murder

Sir Tony Blair’s institute has continued to provide guidance to the Saudi authorities even after the murder of writer Jamal Khashoggi, it has been reported.

The former prime minister’s organisation is involved in a multimillion-pound deal aimed at aiding Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s bid to modernise the wealthy gulf state.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince stands accused of ordering the brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post-linked opposition journalist.

The prince has denied any role in the murder, which occurred in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

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An arrangement in late 2017 marked the start of the multimillion-pound cooperation between Blair’s Institute for Global Change and the Saudi Ministry of Information and Culture.

As part of this engagement, the institute’s advisors provided advice to Saudi officials on the “policy and objectives of the reform programme”.

The Times reports that Blair’s spokesman confirmed that the institute has continued to participate in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, a massive economic reform plan aimed to boost tourism and reduce reliance on oil, even after Khashoggi’s death.

According to an official statement, there were initial internal doubts about the partnership’s course of action, which was established in the aftermath of the murder in 2017.

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Despite the “terrible crime,” Mr Blair finally decided that his continued involvement was “justified”, the Times reports.

The spokesperson also repeatedly stated that no staff or board members were opposed to the resolution.

A statement from Sir Tony’s office said the former Labour Prime Minister: “took the view then and is strongly of the view now that the programme of social and economic change underway in Saudi Arabia is of immense and positive importance to the region and the world… the relationship with Saudi Arabia is of critical strategic importance to the West, and that therefore staying engaged there is justified”.

Following the report by the Financial Times, it has been revealed that Rishi Sunak extended an invitation to the prince for a visit to the UK during the upcoming autumn season.

Downing Street refrained from providing any comment on the matter when approached.

This potential UK visit serves as the latest indication of Western nations embracing the crown prince once again within their diplomatic circles, despite his prior exclusion over the murder

As part of its post-Brexit efforts to draw investment from the oil-rich Gulf region, the United Kingdom is working to enhance its connections with the kingdom, despite concerns raised about its human rights track record.

Mr Sunak engaged with Prince Mohammed during the G20 summit in Bali in November, where discussions encompassed social reforms and civil liberties, but not the matter of Mr Khashoggi’s murder, as clarified by No 10 at the time.

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