By SUZAN FRASER, Related Press
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is scheduled to reach in Ankara on Wednesday, making his first go to to Turkey following the slaying of Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul.
As Saudi Arabia and Turkey press forward with efforts to restore ties that have been strained by Khashoggi’s killing, the crown prince will meet President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the final leg of a Center East tour that additionally took him to Egypt and Jordan.
Erdogan mentioned talks with Prince Mohammed, who is often referred to by his initials MBS, would deal with advancing Turkish-Saudi relations to a “a lot increased diploma.” Erdogan visited Saudi Arabia in April, paying his first go to to the dominion since 2017, a yr earlier than the ugly killing of Khashoggi by Saudi brokers inside the dominion’s Istanbul consulate.
As relations with Turkey frayed, Saudi Arabia launched an unofficial embargo on Turkish exports, dramatically curbing round $5 billion in bilateral commerce. The dominion additionally briefly barred wildly well-liked Turkish cleaning soap operas.
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Efforts by the regional heavyweights to enhance their ties come as Turkey faces its worst financial disaster in 20 years and is attempting to attract investments from rich Gulf Arab states. Turkey has additionally taken steps to enhance relations with the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Israel.
Talks with the UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan late final yr led to funding offers price $10 billion after years of regional rivalry.
Saudi Arabia for its half, has been attempting to broaden its alliances at a time of strained relations between Riyadh and Washington. The crown prince additionally seeks to place an finish to the scandal over Khashoggi’s killing that broken his repute.
Ayham Kamel, head of the Euroasia Group’s Center East analysis group, mentioned the prince’s regional journey this week is “designed to cement Riyadh’s regional position and broaden reconciliation efforts forward of President Joe Biden’s go to to the dominion subsequent month.”
The journey to Turkey would advance a normalization of Saudi-Turkey ties, he mentioned, including that it might additionally serve to mediate between Cairo and Ankara. Turkey and Egypt are nonetheless working towards reconciliation after their relations broke down over Turkey’s robust opposition to the ouster of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and its assist to members of the Muslim Brotherhood motion.
“Bilateral commerce is prone to improve, and there’s a good likelihood that Saudi tourism flows to Turkey will resume,” Kamel wrote. “Talks might additionally contain army/protection cooperation or arms procurement, because the Saudis are taken with exploring diversifying their suppliers.”
Turkey opened a trial in absentia in opposition to 26 Saudis suspected in Khashoggi’s killing, however the courtroom earlier this yr dominated to halt the proceedings and switch the case to Saudi Arabia, paving the best way for the nations’ rapprochement.
Prince Mohammed’s Center East journey comes earlier than U.S. President Joe Biden’s scheduled journey to the area subsequent month. Biden is scheduled to go to Saudi Arabia on the tail finish of his July 13-16 journey that features stops in Israel and the occupied West Financial institution.
The killing of Khashoggi sparked world outrage and put stress on Prince Mohammed, who was mentioned to have authorized the operation to kill or seize Khashoggi, in line with a U.S. intelligence evaluation. The prince has denied any information of the operation that was carried out by brokers who labored immediately for him.
Whereas by no means naming Prince Mohammed, Erdogan mentioned the operation that killed Khashoggi was ordered by the “highest ranges” of the Saudi authorities.
Khashoggi entered the consulate in October 2018 by appointment to acquire papers to permit him to wed his Turkish fiancée, who waited for him outdoors. He by no means emerged and his physique was by no means discovered.
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