Saudi Crown Prince “MBS” visits Turkiye to discuss normalization of ties

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Wednesday arrived in the capital, Ankara, on an official visit to the Republic of Turkiye.

The Saudi crown prince’s Wednesday visit to Turkiye comes for the first time in years to hold talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as the two countries aim to normalize their relations following tumultuous years.

President Erdogan received the crown prince at the Presidential Complex in the capital Ankara. Ahead of an official dinner, the two leaders held one-on-one and inter-delegation meetings.

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

The Turkish President 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 and said: “A new era will begin.”

The Turkish official said the two countries had lifted restrictions on trade, flights and the screening of TV series, with mutual negative media coverage also halted.

Agreements on energy, economy and security would be signed during the visit, while a plan was also in the works for Saudi funds to enter capital markets in Turkiye, the official said.

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

Erdogan in April visited the kingdom in the first high-level visit in years, which followed intense efforts in recent months to repair some diplomatic damage after a decade of tension.

Following his trip to Saudi Arabia that came upon Saudi King Salman’s invitation, Erdogan said Ankara and Riyadh were striving to increase all kinds of political, military and economic relations to “start a new era.”

Erdogan described the visit as “a manifestation of our common will to start a new era of cooperation as two brotherly countries.”

Relations between Turkiye and Saudi Arabia deteriorated in the past decade, but both countries are now seeking to revive ties.

Before his trip this year, the last time Erdogan visited Saudi Arabia was in 2017 when he tried to mediate a dispute pitting the kingdom and other Gulf countries against Qatar.

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

Turkiye 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 (UAE) and Saudi Arabia after years of antagonism.

On the negotiations with Egypt, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates to normalize relations, Erdogan described these efforts as a “new era” for a process of making friends and not enemies.

Erdogan had reiterated that Turkiye 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.

The normalization process launched with Saudi Arabia and the UAE will make great contributions to both sides, Erdogan said recently.

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