Erdogan plans to visit Saudi Arabia, repair ties with Riyadh
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his visit to Saudi Arabia shows the two countries' common will to start a new era of cooperation as "two brotherly countries.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Thursday that Ankara and Riyadh will start a "new era" to boost bilateral ties, the Anadolu agency reported.
“My visit (to Saudi Arabia) is the manifestation of our common will to start a new era of cooperation as two brotherly countries,” Erdogan told reporters at the Ataturk Airport before heading to the Saudi city of Jeddah on a visit that will last for two days.
Ankara-Riyadh relations will be reviewed
On Wednesday, the Turkish presidency announced Erdogan’s visit, noting that it comes upon the invitation of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz.
The presidency said that the Ankara-Riyadh relations “will be reviewed in all aspects and the possibilities of developing cooperation will be discussed."
“During the meetings, views will be exchanged on regional and international issues as well as bilateral relations,” it added.
Riyadh trip will be closed to press
The two-day trip comes on the heels of an Istanbul court's decision to halt the trial in absentia of 26 Saudi suspects linked to the murder of Riyadh critic Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom's Istanbul consulate in 2018, transferring the case to Saudi Arabia.
"We don't have a negative attitude towards Saudi Arabia in terms of normalizing relations, either commercially, economically, or politically," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told state television last month.
A Turkish official told AFP that Erdogan was not expected to make any formal announcement during his trip to Riyadh that will be closed to the press.
Erdogan is due to meet Saudi Arabia's King Salman, noted the official, adding that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman will likely be in the delegation attending the talks.
Gradually improving trade
The murder of 59-year-old Khashoggi, a Saudi insider turned critic who wrote columns for The Washington Post, threw Saudi Arabia into international isolation and escalated Riyadh's regional rivalry with Ankara.
Turkey infuriated Saudi Arabia by pressing ahead with an investigation into the murder, 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, underscoring an easing of regional tensions.
The Istanbul trial was suspended during a new spell of economic turmoil in Turkey, which has suffered from soaring inflation and a wave of winter street protests that have hurt Erdogan's popularity ahead of a general election next year.