Saudi crown prince snubs G7 summit Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

RIYADH. – Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has turned down an invitation to the G7 summit in Italy due to the Hajj pilgrimage season in his country, which starts today, the Saudi Press Agency has reported.

Bin Salman was among a group of Middle Eastern leaders invited to the Group of Seven meeting, as Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni works to advance Rome’s relations with the Gulf states.

A statement from the Saudi government on Wednesday said the Crown Prince had sent an apology to Meloni and declined an invitation to attend the gathering scheduled for June 13 in Puglia due to “commitments related to supervising pilgrimage.” Hajj is set to begin on June 14, drawing around 1,5 million visitors, who will make the pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia’s Mecca.

The Prince noted the strength of the relationship between the two countries and wished the Italian authorities success in hosting the summit.

Saudi media outlets had earlier reported that bin Salman was invited, and Reuters reported last week that he would attend. It would have been his first time attending a meeting of the group of wealthy economies, which comprises the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the EU.

Italy has invited more than a dozen countries and entities, including the leaders of Middle Eastern and North African countries, to participate in this year’s meeting. UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Jordanian King Abdullah II, and Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune are among the leaders expected to attend the summit, according to the event website. – Xinhua

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