Saudi Arabia drops bid to join Francophone club, following Khashoggi uproar
Saudi Arabia said on Thursday it has pulled out of its bid to join the world's group of French-speaking nations, following uproar over the disappearance of a critical Saudi journalist.
The International Organisation of the Francophonie (OIF) was due to review the Saudi bid at a summit on Thursday, but Riyadh has asked to "postpone" its membership application in a letter, spokesman Bertin Leblanc told AFP.
He gave no reason for the postponement or revealed what the letter said, but it comes amid uproar over the suspected murder of Khashoggi, in the Saudi consulate.
Riyadh has come under international pressure to provide a convincing explanation for the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi after he visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week.
Turkish and US officials have unofficially said he was likely murdered on orders of the Saudi leadership, but Riyadh denies this account.
Saudi Arabia's bid to join the OIF is said to have faced strong opposition from the group's member states.
The OIF was established in 1970 and looks to unite the world's French-speaking countries. It has 58 members and 26 observers, which together account for a population of over 900 million people, including 274 million French speakers.
The Armenian capital Yerevan is hosting the annual summit of the Francophonie on Thursday and Friday, with French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau both in attendance.
French is currently the world's fifth most spoken language after Mandarin Chinese, English, Spanish and Arabic, according to official French estimates.