(Photo credit: Reuters)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) and King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud on 28 April, in his first visit to the kingdom since the brutal murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“As two brotherly countries with historical, cultural and human ties, we are striving to increase all kinds of political, military and economic relations between us and to start a new era,” Erdogan said via Twitter.
Hâdimü’l Haremeyn’in daveti üzerine Suudi Arabistan’a bir ziyaret gerçekleştirdik.
Tarihî, kültürel, beşerî bağlara sahip iki kardeş ülke olarak aramızdaki her türlü siyasi, askerî, ekonomik ilişkilerin artırılması ve yeni bir dönemin başlaması için gayret içerisindeyiz. pic.twitter.com/Jqhhw3F2Rv
— Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (@RTErdogan) April 28, 2022
The Turkish president was received by King Salman in an official ceremony at the Al-Salam palace in the city of Jeddah. He then held a one-on-one meeting with MbS.
Relations between Riyadh and Ankara soured in 2018 after a team of assassins tied to MbS killed and dismembered Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi embassy in Istanbul.
In the days following the murder, Turkish officials said that the operation to kill Khashoggi, a prominent critic of MbS, had been approved by the “highest levels” in Riyadh.
This led to an unofficial Saudi boycott of Turkish goods, slashing Ankara’s exports to the kingdom by 98 percent.
Last year, US intelligence agencies assessed that MbS had himself ordered the hit on Khashoggi, a claim the crown prince vehemently denies.
But as Turkey continues to face a severe economic downturn caused by President Erdogan’s unorthodox economic policies, the country has moved to rebuild ties with the kingdom.
Earlier this month, a Turkish court ruled that the trial in absentia of 26 suspects accused of killing Khashoggi be moved to Saudi Arabia, effectively ending the investigation.
In 2019, a Saudi court indicted 11 people implicated in the murder, in a hearing that critics said did not meet international standards.
Five of the agents were convicted and given death sentences while three were given prison sentences ranging between seven and 10 years. Three others were acquitted due to what the judge said was a “lack of sufficient evidence.”
However, a report from The Guardian late last year revealed that the men convicted for the killing are living in a seven-star villa in the capital Riyadh, instead of being in prison.
According to the report, sources close to senior members of the kingdom’s intelligence said the killers have been provided with several privileges and amenities such as the use of a gym, routine visits by their family members, and meals prepared by professional caterers.