Erdoğan travels to Saudi Arabia to mend strained ties
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan traveled to Saudi Arabia on April 28 to mend a rift between the countries caused by the murder of Riyadh critic Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate in 2018.
The two-day trip comes as Ankara and Riyadh have, in recent months, attempted to repair some diplomatic damage after a decade of tension.
Erdoğan, answering to a question about his talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin before his departure to Riyadh, informed that they discussed the prisoner swap between Russia and the United States in Ankara.
He stressed that this could happen thanks to the efforts of the National Intelligence Organization (MIT), saying “Mr. Putin told me ‘We trust in you. This latest step was very, very positive. I called you to thank you.”
On a question, Erdoğan stressed he would also talk to U.S. President Joe Biden if the American president would also exchange views with him on the developments.
Erdoğan is expected to meet King Salman bin Abdulaziz and the country’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
The visit comes after Turkey dropped a trial of 26 Saudis accused in the gruesome killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi and for the case to be transferred to Saudi Arabia.
Khashoggi, a U.S. resident who wrote critically about Saudi Crown Prince Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed on Oct. 2, 2018, at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. He had gone into the consulate for an appointment to collect documents required for him to marry his Turkish fiancée, Hatice Cengiz.
Tensions between Turkey and Saudi Arabia escalated sharply after Saudi agents killed Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler. Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan said the killing was ordered at the “highest levels” of the Saudi government. Prince Mohammed has denied ordering the killing but said he bore ultimate responsibility as the kingdom’s de facto leader.
The bilateral relations were already tense since a Saudi Arabia-led blockade on Qatar by Arab nations, including the UAE, lasted from mid-2017 to early last year. Doha is one of Ankara’s closest allies.
Over the past year, Ankara has embarked on a diplomatic push to reset relations with countries such as Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia after years of antagonism following the 2011 Arab Spring. Turkey’s support for popular movements linked to the Muslim Brotherhood initially spurred the break with Arab regimes.