Saudi crown prince visits Turkey to discuss normalization in ties

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) will visit Turkey for the first time in years on Wednesday for talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as the two countries aim to normalize their relations following tumultuous years.

In April, Erdoğan went to Saudi Arabia after a monthslong drive to mend relations between the regional powers.

Erdoğan said last week that he and MBS, Riyadh’s de facto leader, would discuss “to what much higher level” they can take ties during talks in Ankara.

The visit is expected to bring “a full normalization and a restoration of the pre-crisis period,” a senior Turkish official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. “A new era will begin.”

The official said negotiations on a possible currency swap line were not moving “as fast as desired” and will be discussed privately between Erdoğan and the crown prince.

Agreements on energy, economy and security would be signed during MBS’s visit, while a plan was also in the works for Saudi funds to enter capital markets in Turkey, the person added.

The crown prince is on his first tour outside the Gulf region in over three years including a visit to Jordan.

Ties between Ankara and Riyadh cratered after a Saudi hit squad killed and dismembered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

Turkey had opened a trial in absentia against 26 Saudis suspected in Khashoggi’s killing, but the court earlier this year ruled to halt the proceedings and transfer the case to Saudi Arabia, paving the way for the countries’ rapprochement.

Over the past year, Ankara has embarked on a diplomatic push to reset relations with regional powers such as Israel, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia after years of antagonism. Erdoğan had reiterated that Turkey hopes to maximize its cooperation with Israel, Egypt and Gulf nations “on a win-win basis,” at a time when Ankara intensified diplomacy to mend its fraught ties with these regional powers after years of tensions.

Saudi Arabia for its part has been trying to broaden its alliances at a time when relations between Riyadh and Washington are strained.

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