Saudi Arabia's crown prince 'to visit Turkey next week'

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Saudi Arabia’s crown prince ‘to visit Turkey next week’

Trip will be Mohammed bin Salman’s first visit to Turkey since the brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi in 2018

MEE and agencies

Fri, 06/17/2022 – 08:26

The Saudi crown prince, right, held a one-on-one meeting with the Turkish president, left, in Jeddah in April (AFP)

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will visit Turkey on 22 June, a senior Turkish official told AFP on Friday, in the latest sign of warming relations between the two countries.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and the crown prince in Jeddah in April after years of tensions over the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

It will be the crown prince’s first visit to Turkey since the brutal killing which shocked the world and dealt a heavy blow to ties between the two countries. 

The details of the visit will be announced “over the weekend”, the official said.

The two countries will sign several agreements during the trip, which is expected to be in the capital Ankara, but the location is yet to be confirmed, the official added

Turkey met one of the key Saudi demands in repairing relations in April by deciding to hand the Khashoggi trial to Saudi Arabia, a case involving 26 suspects linked to his killing. 

Erdogan had accused the “highest levels” of the Saudi government of giving the orders but Ankara has since sharply softened its tone.

A US intelligence report released last year said the crown prince had approved the operation to kill or capture Khashoggi, a Washington Post and Middle East Eye columnist, but the Saudi government has denied any involvement by the crown prince and rejects the report’s findings.

Ankara-Riyadh relations worsened significantly after the killing, but a broad regional consensus is emerging that has brought the two closer together.

During Erdogan’s April visit, the president and the crown prince “reviewed the Saudi-Turkish relations and ways to develop them in all fields,” Saudi state news agency SPA said at the time.

Turkey already had strained relations with Saudi Arabia because of its support for Qatar during the Riyadh-led blockade on the Gulf state but relations were frozen for three years after Khashoggi’s killing.

Saudi Arabia responded at the time with an unofficial boycott of Turkish imports, putting pressure on Turkey’s economy. 

Now with high inflation and a cost-of-living crisis a year before a presidential election, Erdogan is seeking backing from Gulf countries.

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