Saudi king to pay official visit to Turkey ahead of OIC summit

Saudi king to pay official visit to Turkey ahead of OIC summit

Saudi king to pay official visit to Turkey ahead of OIC summit

AFP photo

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman will pay an official visit to the Turkish capital next week ahead of his participation in the 13th Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Summit in Istanbul, the Turkish presidential office has announced.

Salman will visit Ankara upon an invitation from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on April 11-13, the presidential office said in a statement released on April 7. The Saudi king will then proceed to Istanbul in order to attend the OIC summit on April 14-15, it noted. 

“During the meetings to be held within the framework of the visit, regional and international issues will also be dealt with,” Erdoğan’s office said.

Salman’s visit to Turkey will come shortly after he arrived on his first official visit to Egypt on April 7, with Cairo saying it was hoping to boost ties with its most important Arab ally and garner trade deals to help bolster its shaky economy.

Ties between Ankara and Cairo have been strained since Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, who is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, after mass protests against his rule.

In early February, while categorically ruling out meeting with former army chief el-Sisi until death penalty sentences for Morsi and other Muslim Brotherhood leaders were lifted, Erdoğan had already given a green light for ministerial-level talks between the two estranged countries. Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu reportedly agreed the 13th OIC Summit in Istanbul in April could offer an opportunity for such ministerial talks. 

Riyadh has helped bankroll el-Sisi’s government since 2013, giving billions of dollars in aid, grants and cash deposits to help buoy the country’s economy. Egypt has faced years of political upheaval since a 2011 pro-democracy uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak sent foreign reserves tumbling and slowed economic growth.

The two Arab nations, however, are at odds in their approach to the region’s major crises, primarily the wars in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.