Turkish foreign minister in Riyadh for official visit

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu arrived in Saudi Arabia on May 10 to meet his Saudi counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, and discuss bilateral relations and regional issues.

“In #SaudiArabia to discuss bilateral relations and important regional issues, especially the attacks at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the oppression against the Palestinian people,” Çavuşoğlu said in a tweet.

The minister will be in Saudi Arabia until May 12, according to a statement by the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

The relations between Ankara and Riyadh hit an all-time low over the 2018 killing in Istanbul of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The visit comes as Turkey stepped up to restore ties with Arab nations, including the Gulf country.

In recent months, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke on the phone with King Salman on the occasion of the G20 Summit, while the countries’ two foreign ministers held in-person meetings on the sidelines of international summits.

The visit by Çavuşoğlu is the first by a high-level Turkish official since the killing of Khashoggi by Saudi agents inside the kingdom’s consulate increased tensions between the two countries.

Khashoggi was killed on Oct. 2, 2018, after he entered the consulate to get documents that would allow him to marry his Turkish fiancee, who was waiting outside. Turkish officials allege Khashoggi, who had written critically about Saudi Arabia’s crown prince for The Washington Post, was killed by a team of Saudi agents and then dismembered with a bone saw.

Last year, Ankara began trying two former aides of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other Saudi citizens in absentia in Turkey. Saudi Arabia imposed an informal boycott on Turkish goods and also closed down eight Turkish schools in the kingdom, Turkish state media reported.

The Saudi government later admitted to the murder under intense international pressure. Some suspects were later put on trial in Riyadh behind closed doors. Khashoggi’s family subsequently announced they had forgiven his killers.

Turkey’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood was also a source of tension with the Gulf country. Ankara and Riyadh had also been at odds over Turkey’s support for Qatar in a dispute among Gulf countries as well as over the conflict in Libya.

As the UAE and Saudi are resolving their differences with Qatar, and efforts to end the civil war with Libya have led to a political transition phase, Ankara has been able to seek to repair ties with the regional countries.

Hurriyet Daily News

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