News ID: 321329
Published: 0139 GMT April 29, 2022

Erdogan meets Saudi leaders on first visit since Khashoggi murder

Erdogan meets Saudi leaders on first visit since Khashoggi murder

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) hugs Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman before a meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on April 28, 2022.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince on Thursday to “develop” relations on his first visit since the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi drove a wedge between the two countries.

Saudi state news agency SPA published images of the Turkish leader embracing Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), the de facto ruler who US intelligence officials determined approved the plot against Khashoggi – something Riyadh denies.

The warm embrace between Erdogan and MBS appears to signal that the previous cold relationship between the two countries is now over.

The pair “reviewed the Saudi-Turkish relations and ways to develop them in all fields,” SPA reported.

Pictures published by Turkish state media also showed a separate sit-down with King Salman, the crown prince’s father.

The trip came as Turkey, facing an economic crisis fuelled by the collapse of its currency and soaring inflation, tries to drum up financial support from energy-rich Persian Gulf countries.

Prior to flying from Istanbul to Saudi’s second city Jeddah, where some roads were lined with Turkish and Saudi flags, Erdogan said he hoped “to launch a new era” in bilateral ties.

“We believe enhancing cooperation in areas including defence and finance is in our mutual interest,” Erdogan said.

Saudi agents killed and dismembered Khashoggi, an insider turned critic, in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate in October 2018. His remains have never been found.

The gruesome act risked isolating Saudi Arabia, and especially Prince Mohammed, while escalating Riyadh’s regional rivalry with Ankara.

Turkey infuriated the Saudis by pressing ahead with an investigation into the murder of the Washington Post columnist, which Erdogan said was ordered at the “highest levels” of the Saudi government.

Saudi Arabia responded by unofficially putting pressure on Turkey’s economy through a boycott of key Turkish imports.

But trade between the two has been gradually improving, and in January Erdogan said he was planning a visit to Saudi Arabia.

Earlier this month, an Istanbul court halted the trial in absentia of 26 Saudi suspects linked to Khashoggi’s death, transferring the case to Riyadh.

The Turkish decision infuriated human rights campaigners and Khashoggi’s widow Hatice Cengiz, who vowed to appeal it in a higher court.

Fallout from the Khashoggi killing continues to mar Saudi Arabia’s image, especially in the United States.





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