Moroccan authorities have reportedly refused to meet with Saudi Arabia’s powerful crown prince as he makes his first foreign tour since the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Citing informed sources, Moroccan news website Lakome reported the development on Monday as Mohammed bin Salman set off on a controversial Arab tour before he attends the Group of 20 summit in Argentina Wednesday.
“Bin Salman did not exclude Morocco from his tour but Morocco refused to meet with him during the current circumstances,” the report said, likely a reference to widespread anger over Khashoggi’s murder.
It added that Rabat has also postponed a meeting between the countries’ foreign ministers that was scheduled to take place within days.
Earlier in the week, London-based al-Quds al-Arabi reported that Moroccan King Mohammed VI suggested Prince Mohammed meet with his brother because of his “busy schedule”.
Relations between Rabat and Riyadh have cooled since Morocco backed Qatar when a Saudi-led alliance launched a blockade on the gas-rich emirate last year.
Saudi Arabia earlier this year supported the US-led bid for the 2026 World Cup over that of Morocco – a move that angered many in the North African country.
Prince Mohammed met the Tunisian leader on Tuesday in a visit that lasted a few hours and was greeted with street protests.
Hundreds of protesters rallied against the visit, urging justice for the murder of Khashoggi and condemning the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia has faced intense global criticism over the killing of insider-turned-critic Khashoggi in its Istanbul consulate on October 2.
He was reportedly dismembered in what Saudi Arabia said was a “rogue” operation, but CIA analysis leaked to the US media pointed the finger at Prince Mohammed.
The Saudi crown prince has also held talks in the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt on his first foreign tour since the Khashoggi affair erupted.
Unconfirmed reports have said he was intending to stop by Algeria and Mauritania before attending the G20 summit in Buenos Aires.
Human Rights Watch said on Monday it has asked Argentina’s government to investigate Mohammed bin Salman for his role in the brutal war in Yemen, and his alleged complicity in the murder of Khashoggi.