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Turkish President Erdogan plans meeting with Saudi crown prince to revive ties

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, according to senior Turkish officials with direct knowledge of the Turkish president’s programme.

April 28, 2022 / 05:19 PM IST
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to meet Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, seeking a turnaround in diplomatic and economic relations that hit a low following the 2018 murder of a prominent Saudi critic at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

Erdogan will meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, according to senior Turkish officials with direct knowledge of the Turkish president’s programme. Erdogan will also meet King Salman bin Abdulaziz, the officials said, asking not to be identified to discuss details of the trip. There was no confirmation of the visit or meeting from the Saudi side.

Erdogan’s looking to bolster trade and lure investment from oil exporters as Turkey’s floundering economy costs him support ahead of elections scheduled for next year. The government in Ankara hopes that the rapprochement will help restore trade to previous levels and boost Saudi investments in Turkey.

“Turkey and Saudi Arabia will seek to develop all aspects of relations between the two countries during the visit and exchange views on regional and international issues,” Erdogan’s office said in a statement on Thursday.

The visit comes a day after Turkey’s Finance Minister Nureddin Nebati held online talks with his Saudi counterpart Mohammed Al-Jadaan on Wednesday. “We exchanged ideas in the fields of economy, trade and investment in order to develop cooperation between our countries,” Nebati said on Twitter.

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Shipments to Saudi Arabia, once a key market for Turkey, slumped in late 2020, coinciding with what Turkish exporters said was an unofficial boycott. Last year, Turkish exports were just over $200 million in 2021, down from around $3.2 billion in 2019, according to official Turkish data.

Turkey this month ended its trial over the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents on Turkish soil. Its decision to transfer the case to Saudi Arabia removed a key obstacle to improved ties and Erdogan’s visit.

The case became a bigger headache for the Saudi crown prince after a U.S. intelligence assessment concluded that he had likely ordered the operation. The prince has denied any involvement, though he’s said he accepts responsibility for the killing as Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler.

Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been working on a rapprochement for months, part of a broader realignment that’s seen regional rivals heal rifts and step back from conflicts since President Joe Biden took office.

The trip is part of a broader effort to mend relations with Gulf Arab countries after years of hostility fueled by Erdogan’s support for Islamist groups during the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings.

A warming of relations with the United Arab Emirates last year has already unlocked billions of dollars worth of potential business.

The UAE signed a $4.9 billion currency swap with Turkey in January, offering Turkey’s beleaguered currency much-needed support. The UAE has outlined plans for a $10 billion fund to support investments as it seeks to at least double bilateral trade.



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Bloomberg
first published: Apr 28, 2022 05:19 pm
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