UK: London Mayor latest to boycott Saudi Arabia summit

2nd Oct 2020
UK: London Mayor latest to boycott Saudi Arabia summit

By Abdul-Jabbar Abu Ras

 

ISTANBUL (AA): The Mayor of London will not participate in the Urban 20 summit being hosted by Saudi Arabia, British media reported on Wednesday.

Sadiq Khan has joined the mayors of Paris and two US cities of Los Angeles and New York, his spokesman said.

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London told The Muslim News: “It has never been the Mayor’s intention to attend this U20 summit and his invite has previously been formally declined. No one is representing him at the summit or speaking on behalf of London.

“The normal practice is for an official of the GLA to observe such multilateral events as the U20, which cover the most pressing issues of our time, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate emergency – neither of which can be tackled without international cooperation.

“However, to avoid any implication that this observer status means support for the Saudi government, the GLA, exceptionally, will not dial in to view any of the U20 summit sessions this year.”

The mayor’s office said that it will not send a Greater London Authority (GLA) official to observe the meetings.

The decision was taken amid calls for boycotting the event due to Saudi Arabia’s contentious human rights record.

Campaign groups had called on mayors around the world not to attend the three-day Urban 20 (U20) summit, which began on Wednesday in Riyadh, to protest the plight of political prisoners in Saudi Arabia.

Eric Garcetti, mayor of Los Angeles, earlier announced he would not attend the summit due to concerns over women’s rights in the kingdom.

On Tuesday, Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, also pulled out of the event in solidarity with jailed Saudi women’s rights activists Loujain al-Hathloul, according to France 24 news channel.

A few days earlier, Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York, said he would boycott the summit as it coincides with the death anniversary of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

De Blasio said in a statement last week: “The global Covid-19 pandemic has shown just how crucial it is for cities across the world to work together while standing up for what’s right. We cannot lead the world without speaking out against injustices.

“We must stand united for combating climate change, advancing peace and protecting human rights. I urge my colleagues in other global cities to join me in withdrawing from this year’s U20 summit and demanding progress.”

The online summit started on Wednesday and ends on Friday, which is the second anniversary of Khashoggi’s murder by a Saudi hit squad at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

* Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara

Additional report by The Muslim News

[Photo credit:Katy Blackwood/WikiCommons]

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