Erdogan meets Saudi crown prince on first official visit

52
2
Erdogan meets Saudi crown prince on first official visit

The visit started with a welcome ceremony and will be followed by a one-on-one meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the crown prince.

The trip came as the West and the Middle East try to repair relations with the oil-rich kingdom in order to alleviate financial strains caused by the Pandemic and sky-high energy prices sparked by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. In April, Erdogan met the crown prince in the Saudi city of Jeddah, a visit that ended the years-long diplomatic standoff between the two countries.

The crown prince, known as MBS, is the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia. A wave of crackdowns on Saudi dissidents, culminating in Khashoggi's murder by a 15-man hit squad, strained relations between Riyadh and multiple Western states and Turkey.

According to Turkish official sources, a Saudi forensic expert equipped with a bone saw dismantled Khashoggi's body after he was killed in Istanbul consulate in October 2018. MBS denied involvement in the murder, which captured international headlines with lurid details of the killing. Erdogan spoke out strongly against the murder, launching a probe into the killing and breaking down diplomatic relations between the two countries. A plummeting Turkish lira and an inflation of more than 70% appear to have forced the Turkish President to change his tack. For months Ankara has made overtures to Riyadh, as well as Saudi's closest Gulf ally, Abu Dhabi, to mend relations, including ending Khashoggi's murder trial in April and transferring the case to Riyadh. Rights groups have condemned the move, arguing that it would kill off the case. Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi's fianc e, an outspoken advocate for justice for the slain Saudi critic, said her legal team would appeal the decision. The White House says Biden's meeting with Saudi officials next month will 'include' crown prince The fact that he came to our country does not change the fact that he is responsible for murder, Cengiz tweeted on Wednesday, referring to MBS' visit. During his US presidential campaign, Joe Biden pledged to turn MBS into a pariah over his rights record. As President, Biden has refused to communicate directly with the powerful prince, instead he has chosen to speak to his official counterpart, the ailing King Salman. Biden's Saudi policy was reversal due to soaring fuel prices in recent weeks. Tense diplomatic relations reduced US leverage in pushing Riyadh to pump more oil, until Biden ramped up diplomatic efforts and scheduled a first official visit to the kingdom, which is expected to happen in July. He is expected to meet MBS during the visit.