Turks, Saudis eye deeper ties with King Salman’s visit
A handout picture released by the Egyptian Presidency on April 8, 2016 shows Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz talking during a joint press conference with Egyptian President after a meeting at the Presidential Palace in CairoTurkey and Saudi Arabia will seek to further deepen bilateral relations on the occasion of Saudi King Salman’s two-day visit to Ankara, which will observe the meeting of a high-level strategic cooperation council with the participation of a number of ministers from both sides.
Accompanied with a very large delegation, Salman is expected to arrive in Ankara to pay his first official visit to Turkey on April 11 upon the official invitation of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. After concluding meetings in Ankara, the Saudi delegation will move to Istanbul to attend the 13th Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit which will take place on April 14 and 15.
The two leaderships are expected to review ongoing cooperation in the number of different fields, including trade and the economy, as well as to coordinate mutually concerning foreign policy issues.
With Salman coming to Turkey after concluding a trip to Egypt, it’s believed that strained Ankara-Cairo relations will also be on the agenda, as Erdoğan had already commented that the Saudi leadership was pressing on both sides to reconcile their relations. Egypt will also be present at the OIC summit at the foreign minister level.
Another top issue will be the ongoing unrest in Syria, as both sides share a similar line that requires the toppling of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Saudi Arabia deployed four warplanes to Turkey’s İncirlik Air Base in recent months to actively participate in the international efforts to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Salman and Erdoğan are expected to evaluate recent developments in the field, as the cessation of hostilities continues in Syria amid U.N.-led efforts to reach a political settlement to the problem. Both countries support the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other Arab armed groups as the main military ground forces fighting ISIL and the regime.
A delegation composed of 300 Saudi officers has been in Ankara for the last week to prepare all protocol requirements to provide a comfortable stay to the king in Ankara and Istanbul. Hundreds of luxury cars have been hired for the service of the Saudi delegation while the Marriott Hotel was fully booked by the Saudi leadership for three nights.