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Turkish president meets Saudi leader

Turkish president meets Saudi leaders
This handout image released by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) on April 28, 2022, shows Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz escorting Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan (L) during a meeting in Saudi Arabia's Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah. (Photo: SPA / AFP)
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with Saudi Arabia's crown prince on Thursday to "develop" relations.

Saudi state news agency SPA published images of the Turkish leader embracing Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. اضافة اعلان

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

Pictures published by Turkish state media also showed a separate sit-down with King Salman, the crown prince's father. 

The trip came as Turkey, facing an economic crisis fueled by the collapse of its currency and soaring inflation, tries to drum up financial support from energy-rich Gulf countries.

Prior to flying from Istanbul to Saudi's second city Jeddah, where some roads were lined with Turkish and Saudi flags, Erdoğan said he hoped "to launch a new era" in bilateral ties.

"We believe enhancing cooperation in areas including defense and finance is in our mutual interest," Erdoğan said.

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.

The Turkish decision infuriated human rights campaigners and Khashoggi's widow Hatice Cengiz, who vowed to appeal it in a higher court.

A Turkish official told AFP that Erdoğan was not likely to make any formal announcement during the trip, which was expected to stretch into Friday.

Economic interests are "a major, major driver" of Erdoğan's visit, said Dina Esfandiary, senior Middle East adviser for the International Crisis Group.

"It looks like Turkey's forgotten about Khashoggi, and I'm sure the Saudis appreciate that," Esfandiary said. 

"I'm sure we'll see a statement about how it's time for things to get better, maybe building economic ties and trade, a boost to the Turkish economy thanks to the Saudis," she added.

Turkey has suffered an annual inflation rate topping 60 percent and a wave of winter street protests that have hurt Erdoğan's popularity ahead of a general election next year.

Erdoğan is now seeking backing from Gulf countries with which he has been at odds in the decade since the Arab Spring revolts.

In February, he traveled to the United Arab Emirates for the first time in nearly a decade, where he called on wealthy business leaders to invest in Turkey.

The last time Erdoğan visited Saudi Arabia was in 2017 when he tried to mediate a dispute pitting the kingdom and other Gulf countries against Qatar.

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