Saudi crown prince visits Turkey for first time since Khashoggi killing

Ankara, Jun 22 (EFE).- Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcomed Saudi Arabia’s crown prince on Wednesday in Ankara for the first meeting between the two countries in Turkey since the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul.

Mohammed bin Salman arrived in the Turkish capital Ankara with a large political and economic delegation. His first private meeting with Erdogan will aim to repair damaged relations.

Following the one-to-one talks, ministers, experts and businessmen from both countries will gather to discuss economic ties, trade and partnerships.

Turkey has been grappling with a growing economic crisis fueled by the sharp depreciation of the lira and soaring inflation that already exceeds 70%.

The prospect of multimillion-dollar Saudi investments could improve Erdogan’s standing in the polls ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections in June 2023.

The state Turkish broadcaster TRT has reported that agreements will be signed in sectors including tourism, health and the military, and that the two leaders will also discuss regional and international issues.

The visit has been harshly criticized by the opposition, which accuses Erdogan of seeking profitable partnerships over the country’s honor and interests.

The Turkish government strongly condemned the murder in October 2018 of Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who was highly critical of the crown prince and who was murdered at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul.

At the time Erdogan accused the Saudi prince of ordering the killing.

In April a Turkish court that was trying 26 Saudi citizens in absentia accused of Khashoggi’s murder, suspended the probe and transferred it to Saudi Arabia.

After the judicial process was suspended, Erdogan met the prince in Riyadh in April.

Several analysts have interpreted the Turkish president’s shift as an attempt to rebuild relations with Washington’s allies in the Persian Gulf.

Turkish officials allege that Khashoggi was killed and dismembered by a Saudi hit squad in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where he had gone to process paperwork ahead of his marriage to Hatice Cengiz.

A Saudi court closed its own investigation into the incident in September 2020 after sentencing eight defendants to up to 20 years in prison.

According to HRW, Saudi authorities failed to arrest the most senior officials accused of involvement in Khashoggi’s murder, including the former royal court adviser, Saud al-Qahtani, and deputy intelligence chief, Ahmed al-Assiri.EFE


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