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Saudi Crown Prince snubs G7 summit 

Mohammed bin Salman will skip the event because of Hajj season commitments, according to local media  

FILE PHOTO: Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud. ©  Bandar Algaloud / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has turned down an invitation to the G7 summit in due to the Hajj pilgrimage season in his country, which starts on Friday, 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, according to media reports.

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.

READ MORE: G7 to give Ukraine $50 billion loan with Russia’s money – media

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.

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia said it would not take part in the so-called ‘Ukraine peace summit’ due to take place on June 15 and 16 at Burgenstock Resort in Switzerland. Riyadh rejected the event, citing the absence of Russia as a key reason.

The gathering has been touted by Kiev and its Western backers as the most realistic way of resolving the conflict with Russia. Moscow, which has been deliberately excluded from the event, dismissed the talks as meaningless without its participation.

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