Saudi crown prince to visit Turkey next week

AFP , Ahram Online , Friday 17 Jun 2022

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will visit Turkey next week, a Turkish official said Friday, as Ankara and Riyadh seek to mend their relationship.

Mohammed bin Salman
File Photo: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attending a session at the annual Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference in the Saudi capital Riyadhon October 26, 2021. AFP


The kingdom's Crown Prince is expected to visit the capital Ankara on June 22 but details of the trip will be announced "over the weekend", a senior Turkish official told AFP.

The two countries will sign several agreements during their trip as Turkey looks to non-Western partners for financial support as soaring inflation bites.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had already paid his visit in late April to Saudi Arabia since the murder, where he met the prince before travelling to Mecca.

Turkey already had strained relations with Saudi Arabia because of its support to Qatar during the 2017 Riyadh-led blockade on the Gulf state but relations were frozen for more than three years after 2018.

Saudi Arabia responded at the time with an unofficial boycott of Turkish imports, putting pressure on Turkey's economy.

Turkish exporters complained their goods were stuck at Saudi customs for longer than was necessary.

Now with inflation reaching 73.5 percent in May and a cost-of-living crisis a year before a presidential election, Erdogan needs backing from Gulf countries, experts say.

"Turkey's main concern would be getting Saudi funding to resupply central bank coffers that are dangerously low," Asli Aydintasbas, a fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, told AFP.

The Turkish lira lost 44 percent of its value against the dollar in 2021, while the central bank has pumped billions of dollars to prop up the currency.

In the past 18 months, Turkey has also sought to repair relations with powerful countries in the region like Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

US President Joe Biden heading to the Middle East next month and is expected to make a stop in Saudi Arabia where he will meet with the Crown Prince.

French President Emmanuel Macron had already met Prince Mohammed in December during a visit to the kingdom.

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