Organizers for the Future Investment Initiative (FII), held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, reportedly did not invite any U.S. government officials to attend the event in 2022.
The three-day conference begins Oct. 25 and has historically been a must-go for foreign officials and Wall Street personnel, according to InsiderPaper. The event reportedly expects to bring in close to 400 American CEOs in October, Richard Attias, CEO of the group running the event, told French outlet Agence France-Presse (AFP) and cited by InsiderPaper. (RELATED: Desert Kingdom Will Host Winter Sports Event)
“I realized that when you have political leaders on stage, the attention of the media, let’s be very frank, is diverted to the political agenda, and we don’t want FII to become a political platform,” Attias reportedly told AFP, speaking about the organizers’ decision to not invite U.S. officials.
ALERT – Biden government’s officials not invited to Saudi Investment Forum, organiser says
— Insider Paper (@TheInsiderPaper) October 17, 2022
Officials from both former President Donald Trump’s administration and the Biden administration have attended the FII event in the past, Barron’s reported.
Don Graves, deputy of commerce secretary under Biden, attended the event in 2021, and Steven Mnuchin, treasury secretary for former President Donald Trump, addressed the FII at the event’s debut in 2017, although he refused to attend the following year in protest of the Saudi government’s alleged role in killing journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to the outlet.
The decision to snub the Biden administration from the Saudi event comes as tensions escalate between Biden and Saudi Arabia’s OPEC+ oil cartel. Following the Oct. 5 slash in oil production by nearly two million barrels per day, the Biden administration pressured the Saudis to delay the production decline another month, when any increase in oil prices may come too late to impact the midterm elections in the U.S.
The Biden administration accused the desert kingdom of siding with Russia during the country’s invasion of Ukraine, as an increase in oil prices would make it more costly to support the Ukrainian military, and would also boost Russia’s oil revenues. The Saudi Arabian government refuted the claims, stating it initiated the drop in BPD to avoid potentially “negative economic consequences,” a Saudi Foreign Ministry stated.