Saudi Crown Prince Visits Turkey As Countries Normalize Ties

SMohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince of Arabia is due to arrive in Ankara this Wednesday. This will be his first trip to Turkey since the death of Jamal Khashoggi.

As part of President Recep TAYYIP Erdogan’s final leg in a Middle East tour which took him to Egypt, Jordan and Syria, the crown prince will visit Mr. Erdogan. His visit comes before U.S. President Joe Biden’s trip to the region next month.

Erdogan said talks with the prince, who is commonly referred to by his initials MBS, would focus on advancing Turkish-Saudi relations to a “much higher degree.” Erdogan visited Saudi Arabia in April, paying his first visit to the kingdom since 2017, a year before the gruesome killing of Khashoggi by Saudi agents in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

Turkey’s efforts to improve ties with Saudi Arabia comes as Turkey faces its worst economic crisis in two decades and is trying to draw investments from wealthy Gulf Arab states. Turkey is also working to enhance relations with Egypt and Israel.

Talks with the UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan late last year led to investment deals worth $10 billion after years of regional rivalry.

Saudi Arabia has, on its own, been seeking to strengthen its alliances during a difficult time in Washington’s relations with Riyadh. The crown prince also seeks to put an end to the scandal over Khashoggi’s killing that damaged his reputation.

Continue reading: Here’s Why the U.S. Didn’t Sanction Mohammed bin Salman for His Role in the Jamal Khashoggi Killing

Turkey had opened a trial in absentia against 26 Saudis suspected in Khashoggi’s killing, but the court earlier this year ruled to halt the proceedings and transfer the case to Saudi Arabia, paving the way for the countries’ rapprochement.

Global outrage over the murder of Khashoggi led to pressure on the prince. According to U.S intelligence assessments, he was believed to have approved Khashoggi’s capture or killing operation. He denied knowing about the operation, which was conducted by his agents.

While never naming Prince Mohammed, Erdogan said the operation that killed Khashoggi was ordered by the “highest levels” of the Saudi government.

Khashoggi had entered the consulate in October 2018 by appointment to obtain papers to allow him to wed his Turkish fiancée, who waited for him outside. His body wasn’t found and he never came out of the consulate.

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