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Turkish FM thanks Qatar for helping release citizens captured by Libya’s Haftar

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The diplomats said that the Saudi Crown Prince and Turkish president’s visits are coincidental.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu thanked Qatar for helping release seven Turkish civilians who were held by Libyan General Khalifa Haftar’s forces for two years.

This came in a joint press conference between the Turkish foreign minister and his Qatari counterpart Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in Doha on Monday.

The civilians were released last month after Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization [MIT] and Ankara’s foreign ministry worked with Qatari intelligence to ensure the safe release and return of the ex-detainees.

Both officials stressed the importance of ensuring stability Libya, which has been mired in chaos since the overthrow of dictator Muamar Gaddafi in 2011.

Turkey led a military intervention during the second Libyan civil war in January last year after signing a maritime memorandum with the internationally-backed Government of National Unity [GNA].

Qatar, Turkey to hold strategic dialogue in Doha this week

The Turkish foreign minister is currently in Doha ahead of the seventh annual Qatar-Turkey Strategic Dialogue, scheduled to take place on Tuesday in Doha.

Sheikh Mohammad and Cavusoglu also tapped into developments in Iraq, Syria, the Palestinian cause and Afghanistan.

“We look forward to tomorrow’s meeting that will look into these files among others,” said Cavusoglu.

On Syria

Qatar and Turkey have been calling for a political resolution to the ongoing war in Syria as well as the safe return of Syrian refugees.

In March, Cavusoglu was in Doha with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, where they announced a “trilateral consultation process” to end Syria’s decade-old conflict.

The Gulf state has repeatedly ruled out normalising with the Bashar Al-Assad regime as long human rights violations continue in the war-torn country.

However, recent reports stated that the host of the upcoming Arab League meeting Algeria has been working on returning the Assad regime to the bloc after its membership was suspended in 2011.

Turkey, Russia, Qatar push for political resolution in war-torn Syria

Responding to those claims, Qatar’s foreign minister reiterated that the causes behind the removal of Syria’s membership remain in place and cannot be achieved without taking “a serious step in reaching a political resolution”.

“I don’t think we’re in a position in allowing [the Syrian regime] to come to the Arab league,” said Qatar’s foreign minister.

The Turkish foreign minister echoed Sheikh Mohammed’s sentiment, saying that he believes reinstating Syria in the league would “embolden it to continue aggressions” in the country.

On Saudi Arabia

Meanwhile, speculations over a possible meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman [MBS] were raised given the timing of their visits to Qatar this week.

The two foreign ministers dismissed reports over such meetings, saying that the timing of the visits is coincidental. Qatar’s foreign minister also expressed his hope in seeing the resumption of ties between Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

“We always hope to see brotherly ties with all Qatari allies and there are Turkish-Saudi efforts in ensuring the restoration of their ties,” said Sheikh Mohammed.

The Turkish foreign minister also expressed his country’s support of the restoration of Qatar-Saudi ties following the signing of the Al-Ula Declaration earlier this year, ending a three-year diplomatic rift.

The 2017 GCC crisis was triggered when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt launched an illegal land, air and sea blockade on Qatar over claims that is sponsors terrorism. Doha has vehemently denied those allegations.

Saudi Arabia’s king invites Qatar’s Amir Tamim to GCC summit in Riyadh

The quartet claimed the move was due to Qatar’s relations with Iran and Turkey, both of which have had their own political rivalries with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

“Turkey wants to develop its relations with all countries in the region,” said Cavusoglu, noting that its different positions across a number of files should not affect Ankara’s ties with any country.

“We do not have any animosity nor ill intentions to countries in the region. Qatar is contributing to improving relations with Turkey and countries in the region and we thank it for its efforts,” added Cavusoglu.

Qatar-Turkey ties

The upcoming strategic dialogue is set to mark a new chapter in Qatar-Turkey bilateral ties.

According to Qatar’s foreign minister, up to 12 new agreements are expected to be signed during the high-profile meetings in Doha.

“Our military and defence relations are further being promoted along with education and cultural sectors. Therefore, we will sign a document for cooperation in the cultural, academic and education sectors tomorrow,” noted Cavusoglu.

The countries are also set to sign an agreement that would pave the way for Qatari and Turkish students to receive education in both countries.

Furthermore, the ongoing developments in Afghanistan will be addressed during the upcoming meetings.

Both Qatar and Turkey have been working over the past few months, in cooperation with the interim Afghan government, to ensure Afghanistan’s airports are operational once again.

Cavusoglu also called on the international community not to isolate Afghanistan and continue dialogue with the Taliban to provide much-needed humanitarian assistance.

“The Afghan people right now are in an urgent need for humanitarian assistance therefore the international community has to distinguish between the humanitarian and political aspects,” added the Turkish diplomat.

Economically, the trade volume between Doha and Ankara has increased by 6%, reaching $1.6 billion during the past 12 months.

Qatar’s total investments in Turkey have now reached $22 billion, with 533 Turkish companies operating in the Gulf country in numerous projects that are worth at least $18.5 billion. In turn, 179 Qatari companies currently operate in Turkey.


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