The trip comes as two countries seek to restore strained relations after the 2018 murder of a Saudi journalist in Istanbul.
The Turkish Foreign Minister has arrived in Saudi Arabia for talks, his first trip since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 in Istanbul has worsened relations between the two countries.
Mevlut Cavusoglu’s visit, which apparently aimed to reestablish ties with Riyadh, comes amid renewed clashes at the flashpoint of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Israel-occupied East Jerusalem.
Turkish officials had said Cavusoglu’s visit could include talks about possible sales of Turkish drones to Saudi Arabia, which Riyadh had requested.
In #Saudi Arabia to discuss bilateral relations and important regional issues, in particular the attacks on the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the oppression against the Palestinian people. pic.twitter.com/9SKoE52ifP
– Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (@MevlutCavusoglu) May 10, 2021
“To Saudi Arabia to discuss bilateral relations and important regional issues, especially the attacks on the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the oppression against the Palestinian people,” Cavusoglu wrote on Twitter.
The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, is also visiting Jeddah in Saudi Arabia on Monday evening and will meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) to discuss bilateral relations and regional and international issues of ‘common interest.
Qatar maintains close ties with Turkey and could facilitate Turkey’s talks with Riyadh, after the two Gulf countries reached a breakthrough in a three-year-old dispute in January. A statement released by the emir’s office did not give further details.
More than 300 Palestinians were injured on Monday, the Palestinian Red Crescent said, after Israeli police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at worshipers inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
Ankara’s relations with Riyadh deteriorated sharply after the October 2018 murder of Khashoggi, 59, a Saudi journalist who wrote critical articles for the Washington Post.
Khashoggi was killed by a team of Saudi agents and was dismembered inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul after entering the diplomatic compound to obtain documents before his marriage to Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz.
His death and the subsequent disappearance of his body tarnished MBS’s image and plunged Riyadh into a diplomatic crisis.
The crisis prompted an unofficial Saudi trade boycott that reduced the value of Turkish imports by 98%. Saudi Arabia is also closing eight Turkish schools in the kingdom, Anadolu reported last month.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at the time that the order to kill Khashoggi came from senior Saudi officials.
Turkey also brought to justice in absentia two former collaborators close to the crown prince, as well as 24 other suspects.
Saudi interest in Turkish drones
But Turkey has taken steps to settle relations with Saudi Arabia, which remains an important trading partner.
Last week, Erdogan spoke by phone with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, although no details of those talks have been released.
Cavusoglu’s two-day visit follows Turkey’s talks last week with Egypt, another regional power allied to the United States, also aimed at restoring troubled relations.
A senior Turkish official said the trade embargo and conflicts in Syria and Libya would be discussed with the Saudis. A Saudi demand for Turkish armed drones could also be on the agenda, two Turkish officials said.
Erdogan said in March that Saudi Arabia had sought to purchase Turkish armed unmanned aerial vehicles. Several countries have expressed interest in drones, which have been used in conflicts in Syria, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh.