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‘A new era’: Saudi Arabia’s MBS in Turkey while nations repair ties | News

Written by Javed Iqbal

The Crown Prince’s visit is a reminder that Saudi-Turkish relations have developed rapidly over the past two years.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) traveled to Turkey for the first time in years for talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with the aim of fully normalizing the ties broken after the assassination of the Saudi journalist in 2018. Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Erdogan welcomed Prince Mohammed to the Presidential Palace in Ankara with a ceremony, and the two shook hands and embraced before being greeted by members of the Turkish cabinet.

In a statement after the negotiations, the two countries emphasized their willingness to start a new period of cooperation in bilateral relations.

MBS’s visit comes as part of a tour that included stops in Egypt and Jordan earlier this week.

Prince Mohammed has exploited Saudi Arabia’s enormous wealth and oil production capacity to mitigate criticism of the country’s human rights status. In return, Erdogan is seeking financial support that can help relieve Turkey’s besieged economy ahead of tight elections for the presidency, expected in 2023.

The trip is expected to bring “a full normalization and a recovery of the pre-crisis period”, a senior Turkish official told Reuters news agency. “A new era will begin.”

The Turkish official said the two countries had lifted restrictions on trade, flights and viewing of TV series, with mutual negative media coverage also stopped.

He said, however, that negotiations on a possible currency swap line – which could help restore Turkey’s diminished foreign exchange reserves – were not moving “as fast as desired” and would be discussed privately between Erdogan and Prince Mohammed.

The two countries also discussed improving cooperation in trade and sectors such as defense, energy and tourism, the joint statement said. It added that Ankara invited Saudi investment funds to invest in Turkish startups.

Turkey’s economy is under heavy pressure from a falling lira and inflation rising to over 70 percent. Saudi funds and foreign exchange could help Erdogan strengthen pre-election support, analysts say.

Leaders will also discuss the possible sale of Turkish armed drones to Riyadh, Turkish officials said.

Economic ties

Relations between Ankara and Riyadh took a turn for the worse after a Saudi Arabian hit team killed and parted Khashoggi in October 2018.

Erdogan at the time blamed “the highest levels” of the Saudi government. MBS has denied any involvement in the killing.

However, Ankara stopped its murder case in April after a month-long drive to rectify the situation. The approximation was marked by Ankara’s approval of a request for transfer the trial to Riyadh.

Human rights groups condemned the move, saying Saudi Arabia could not be expected to hold a fair trial.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi received the MBS at the airport on Monday night, on the first part of a Middle East tour ahead of the United States President Joe Biden’s Journey to the region next month.

The Saudi leader, who is a stable financial backer to the Egyptian government, discussed “regional and broader international political issues,” according to el-Sisi spokesman Bassam Radi.

MBS then traveled to Jordan to speak with its monarch, King Abdullah II, also a close ally of Saudi Arabia.

Business executives and officials hoped the visit would remove the blockade of at least $ 3 billion. USD of investment projects that Saudi Arabia has committed to in recent years, but which never materialized.

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Javed Iqbal

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