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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Turkey’s FM in Saudi Arabia in steps to ‘restore ties’ following 2018 Khashoggi dispute: reports

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A Qatari official previously stated that Doha was ready to act as a mediator between Turkey and Saudi Arabia to ease tensions between the two countries.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu visited Saudi Arabia on Monday for a two-day visit to hold talks expected to mend ties after a dispute over the 2018 killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Reuters reported.

“In Saudi Arabia to discuss bilateral relations and important regional issues, especially the attacks at the Al Aqsa Mosque and the oppression against the Palestinian people,” Cavusoglu tweeted.

Conflicts in Syria and Libya are also among the topics to be discussed in the meetings which could also include a request for Turkish armed drones, a Reuters report said, citing a foreign diplomat in Riyadh who revealed the kingdom is keen on using the drones in the fight against Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Turkey’s key ally Qatar may have been involved in facilitating talks between Ankara and Riyadh, after the two Gulf states restored ties on January 5th following a three-year-long blockade, Reuters reported.

Following the Al-Ula Summit in January, Qatar’s Special Envoy for Counterterrorism and Conflict Resolution Dr. Mutlaq Al-Qahtani said Doha was ready to act as a mediator between Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

“If these two countries see that the State of Qatar has a role in this mediation, then it is possible to do so,” he said. “It is in everyone’s interest that there be friendly relations between these countries.”

While Qatar has yet to issue a statement regarding the latest meeting, state owned Qatar News Agency on Monday confirmed the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani had received a phone call from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Read also: Qatar’s amir visits Saudi Arabia following invitation from king

Throughout the three-year GCC crisis, Turkey stood by Qatar and even deployed its troops  to the Gulf state hours after the blockade was imposed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt.

The former blockading quartet at the time said action taken against Qatar was due to its relations with Iran and Turkey, both of which have had their own political rivalries with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Qatar’s Amir Tamim also visited Saudi Arabia on Monday, where he met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman [MBS] in the second such meeting between the royals this year.

The pair discussed bilateral ties as well as regional and international matters of common interest, with Iran and the current escalations against Palestinians in Jerusalem thought to be high on the agenda.

The Qatari-Saudi meeting came as a response to an official invitation sent by Saudi Arabia‘s King Salman Al-Saud last month inviting the amir to the neighbouring kingdom.

Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Turkey peaked following Khashoggi’s murder, which Erdogan said was an order that came from the “highest levels” of Riyadh’s government.

A US intelligence report released in February found that MBS himself approved the killing, though Saudi Arabia has rejected this claim.

In response to the tensions, Riyadh downgraded its relations with Turkey, reducing the value of Turkish imports by 98%. Last month, Anadolu Agency also reported Saudi plans to close eight Turkish schools in the Gulf state by the end of this year.


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