Erdoğan, King Salman discuss Turkey-Saudi relations in call

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Saudi King Salman have spoken by phone, a statement from the Turkish Presidency said late Tuesday.

According to the statement, the two leaders “exchanged views on Turkey-KSA relations.”

Ankara and Riyadh have in recent months attempted to repair some diplomatic damage after a decade of tension, especially after the 2018 murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate.

The international community has blamed the Saudi authorities for Khashoggi’s murder, namely Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS). The whereabouts of Khashoggi’s body remain unknown.

Aside from the Khashoggi incident, Saudi Arabia’s rapprochement with Israel, support of the coup in Egypt and its stance on Libya and Syria have been other points of contention between Ankara and Riyadh.

Data from the Turkish Exporters’ Assembly (TIM) data earlier this month showed sales to Saudi Arabia almost zeroized in March and plunged to just $19 million (TL 159.19 million), collapsing 93.7% year-on-year from around $298.23 million a year ago.

Many industries have seen their sales almost reset in March.

The TIM data showed that in the first quarter of the year Turkish exports to the kingdom shrunk 93% on an annual basis to $56 million, down from $810.6 million in the January-March period of 2020.

To circumvent the unofficial blockade, some Turkish exporters have been rerouting food, clothing and other goods, and Turkey recently raised the issue at a World Trade Organization (WTO) Goods Council meeting in Geneva.

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