Erdogan meets Saudi leaders in first visit since Khashoggi killing 

Published - April 29, 2022 09:51 pm IST - Riyadh

Mohammed bin Salman meets Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Jeddah.

Mohammed bin Salman meets Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Jeddah. | Photo Credit: SAUDI PRESS AGENCY VIA REUTERS

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince to “develop” relations in his first visit since the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi drove a wedge between the Sunni powers.

Saudi state news agency SPA on Thursday published images of the Turkish leader embracing Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler who U.S. intelligence officials determined approved the plot against Khashoggi — something Riyadh denies.

The pair “reviewed the Saudi-Turkish relations and ways to develop them in all fields,” SPA reported.

Mr. Erdogan then visited the Muslim holy city of Mecca to perform an umrah pilgrimage.

The trip came as Turkey, facing an economic crisis fuelled by the collapse of its currency and soaring inflation, tries to draw financial support from Gulf countries.

Prior to flying from Istanbul to Saudi’s second city Jeddah, where some roads were lined with Turkish and Saudi flags, Mr. Erdogan said he hoped “to launch a new era” in bilateral ties. “We believe enhancing cooperation in areas including defence and finance is in our mutual interest,” Mr. Erdogan said.

Saudi agents killed and dismembered Khashoggi, an insider turned critic, in the kingdom’s Istanbul Consulate in October 2018. His remains have never been found. The gruesome act risked isolating Saudi Arabia, and especially Prince Mohammed, while escalating Riyadh’s regional rivalry with Ankara.

Earlier this month, an Istanbul court halted the trial in absentia of 26 Saudi suspects linked to Khashoggi’s death, transferring the case to Riyadh.

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