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Turkish president in Saudi Arabia on first visit since Khashoggi murder

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) meets Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in the southern city of Jeddah on April 28, 2022. (Photo by Anadolu news agency)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has visited Saudi Arabia to mend fences between Ankara and Riyadh after the 2018 killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi drove a wedge between the two countries.

Erdogan arrived at the palace of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in the southern city of Jeddah on Thursday to discuss further development of bilateral relations in various fields.

“We are striving to increase all kinds of political, military, and economic relations between us and to start a new era,” the Turkish president said in a post on his Twitter handle.

Erdogan said increased cooperation with Saudi Arabia in health, energy, food security, agricultural technologies, the defense industry, and finance is in the interest of both nations, adding that the two countries have serious cooperation potential in renewable and clean energy technologies.

The Turkish leader also said Ankara attaches great importance to the security and stability of the Persian Gulf region, stressing, “We are against all forms of terrorism and that we attach importance to cooperation with the countries in our region against terrorism.”

Underlining that his visit during the fasting holy month of Ramadan “will open the doors of a new era” with Saudi Arabia, Erdogan said, “I believe we will take our relations to a level beyond what they were previously.”

The Turkish president, who arrived in Saudi Arabia for a two-day working visit, had a closed-door meeting with King Salman and also met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Ties between Ankara and Riyadh took a nosedive after Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside Saudi Arabia’s consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul in October 2018.

Saudi Arabia initially issued conflicting stories about Khashoggi’s disappearance, but eventually claimed that the Washington Post columnist had been killed in a “rogue” operation.

At the time, Turkish officials released an audio recording of Khashoggi’s killing that they said contained evidence that Khashoggi had been assassinated on the orders of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Pakistan's new PM arrives in Saudi Arabia

Meanwhile, Pakistan's new Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif began his maiden foreign trip on Thursday by visiting Saudi Arabia in an effort to enhance financial support from Riyadh.

Sharif, at the head of a high-ranking delegation, landed in the holy city of Medina and was greeted by Saudi officials, with a statement from Pakistan’s foreign ministry saying that the talks are expected to focus “on advancing economic, trade and investment ties and creation of greater opportunities for the Pakistani workforce in Saudi Arabia.”

The statement added that Saudi Arabia hosts more than two million Pakistanis.

Sharif, who was sworn in earlier this month after parliament ousted his predecessor Imran Khan in a no-confidence vote, has inherited a crippling national debt, galloping inflation, and a feeble rupee.

The new premier has vowed to use “Pakistan speed” to hurry along with development projects and jump-start an economic recovery.

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