Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday said he will visit Saudi Arabia next month, the Turkish leader’s first since the 2018 murder of Riyadh critic Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul.
Rocky relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia worsened significantly after the brutal killing of Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018.
“They expect me in February. They made a promise and I will pay a visit to Saudi Arabia in February,” Erdogan told an unnamed woman who asked about Turkish exporters’ issues with Saudi Arabia on the sidelines of a trade event in Istanbul.
Khashoggi, 59, was an insider-turned-critic who wrote for The Washington Post and had gone to the consulate obtain documents for his wedding to Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz.
He was dismembered in the consulate in a case that tarnished the reputation of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman despite his strenuous denial of any involvement.
Khashoggi’s remains have never been found, and Erdogan at the time blamed senior Saudi officials though he never named Crown Prince Mohamed.
In the years that followed, Saudi Arabia sought to informally put pressure on the Turkish economy, which had already suffered a currency crisis in 2018.
There were calls for Saudis to avoid visiting Turkey and purchasing property there while Turkish exporters complained of delays at Saudi customs in 2020.
But Turkey has been seeking to repair ties with regional rivals including Egypt and Saudi Arabia in the past two years.
Last May, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was in Saudi Arabia for the first time since Khashoggi’s murder.
The planned visit to Saudi Arabia comes at a critical moment for Turkey, suffering another currency crisis caused by Erdogan’s unconventional economic policies.
In the first high level visit to Turkey since 2012 last November, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed was in Ankara during which the United Arab Emirates announced billions of dollars of investments in Turkey.