Erdogan set to begin trip to Saudi Arabia to revive ties with kingdom

Two-day visit marks the culmination of a months-long effort to repair ties with Riyadh over murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will travel to Saudi Arabia on Thursday for a two-day visit, his office said, marking the culmination of a months-long effort by Ankara to repair ties with Riyadh.

The visit comes after years of tensions in relations between the two countries over the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, three sources familiar with the trip told Middle East Eye.

The presidency said Erdogan will discuss Ankara’s relations with the kingdom in meetings during the trip, as well as ways to increase cooperation.

Turkey met one of the key Saudi demands in repairing relations earlier this month by deciding to hand the Khashoggi trial to Saudi Arabia, a case involving 26 suspects linked to his killing.

Erdogan had accused the “highest levels” of the Saudi government of giving the orders but Ankara has since sharply softened its tone.

The Turkish president will hold talks with Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

A US intelligence report released a year ago said bin Salman had approved the operation to kill or capture Khashoggi, a Washington Post and Middle East Eye columnist, but the Saudi government has denied any involvement by the crown prince and rejects the report’s findings.

‘He blames Erdogan personally’

Three-and-a-half years after Saudi Arabia imposed a boycott on Turkish goods over the Khashoggi affair, the crown prince will attempt to use Erdogan’s visit as leverage to bring a definitive end to the Khashoggi affair.

“For MBS, it’s all about Khashoggi. He is obsessed by it. It’s personal,” one source with knowledge of the trip told MEE earlier this week, using a common nickname for bin Salman.

“He blames Erdogan personally for getting America involved, and for not closing the affair down within the first few days.”

In addition to the Turkish case, there remains a second lawsuit in a US federal court filed by Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancee, and the US-based advocacy group Democracy for the Arab World Now (Dawn), which Khashoggi established and ran before his death.

This lawsuit, Turkish officials argue, is beyond their reach.

Source: Middle East Eye

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