‘A New Era’: Saudi Arabia’s MBS in Turkey as Nations Restore Ties | News

The Crown Prince’s visit reminds us that Saudi-Turkish relations have progressed rapidly over the past two years.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) traveled to Turkey for the first time in years for talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, aiming to fully normalize ties severed after the 2018 assassination of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Erdogan welcomed Prince Mohammed to the presidential palace in Ankara with a ceremony and the two shook hands and embraced, before being greeted by members of the Turkish cabinet.

In a statement following the talks, the two countries emphasized their determination to usher in a new period of cooperation in bilateral relations.

The MBS visit is part of a tour with stops in Egypt and Jordan earlier this week.

Prince Mohammed is taking advantage of Saudi Arabia’s vast wealth and oil production capacity to assuage criticism of the country’s human rights record. In turn, Erdogan is seeking financial support that could help ease Turkey’s ravaged economy ahead of tight presidential elections, expected in 2023.

The trip is expected to lead to “a full normalization and recovery from the pre-crisis period,” a senior Turkish official told Reuters news agency. “A new era will begin.”

The Turkish official said the two countries had lifted restrictions on trade, flights and the showing of TV series, as well as ending mutual negative media coverage.

He said, however, that negotiations on a possible currency swap line — which could help restore Turkey’s diminished foreign reserves — are not going “as quickly as desired” and will be discussed privately between Erdogan and Prince Mohammed.

The two countries also discussed improving cooperation in trade and sectors such as defense, energy and tourism, the joint statement said. It added that Ankara invited Saudi investment funds to invest in Turkish startups.

The Turkish economy is under severe pressure due to a falling lira and inflation exceeding 70 percent. Saudi funds and foreign exchange could help Erdogan bolster support ahead of the election, analysts say.

The leaders will also discuss the possible sale of Turkish armed drones to Riyadh, Turkish officials said.

economic ties

Ties between Ankara and Riyadh deteriorated after Saudi hit squad murdered and dismembered Khashoggi in October 2018.

Erdogan blamed the “top levels” of the Saudi government at the time. MBS has denied any involvement in the murder.

However, Ankara halted its assassination trial in April after a months-long drive to restore relations. The rapprochement was marked by the approval by Ankara of a request for hand over the process to Riyadh

Human rights groups condemned the move, saying Saudi Arabia could not be expected to hold a fair trial.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi received MBS at the airport Monday night, during the first leg of a Middle East tour that comes before the United States President Joe Biden’s Journey next month in the region.

The Saudi leader, who is a regular financier of the Egyptian government, discussed “regional and wider international political issues,” said el-Sisi’s spokesman Bassam Radi.

MBS then left for Jordan for talks with its monarch, King Abdullah II, also a close ally of Saudi Arabia.

Business leaders and officials hoped the visit would unblock at least $3 billion in investment projects that Saudi Arabia has committed to in recent years, but it never materialized.

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