Saudi crown prince to meet Turkey's president in Ankara

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ISTANBUL (AP) — Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman plans to visit Ankara next week, Turkey's president said Friday.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed the official visit would take place Wednesday. Erdogan said he and the crown prince would discuss advancing Turkish-Saudi relations to a “much higher degree” during delegation and one-on-one meetings at the presidential palace.

The crown prince’s visit to Turkey would continue a fast thaw of relations following a breakdown after the 2018 killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate.

While never naming Prince Mohammed, who runs his country on a day-to-day basis, Erdogan had said the operation that killed Khashoggi was ordered by the “highest levels” of the Saudi government.

Turkey had a case open against 26 Saudi suspects in absentia, but the prosecutor transferred it to Saudi Arabia earlier this year, paving the way for the countries' rapprochement.

Erdogan visited Saudi Arabia in April for the first time in five years. His efforts to improve relations with Saudi Arabia, as well as the United Arab Emirates, come as Turkey faces a major economic crisis, with official inflation at 73.5%, and has a presidential election next year.

Talks with the UAE's Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan late last year led to investment deals worth $10bn after years of regional rivalry.

Saudi officials told The Associated Press the crown prince will also visit Egypt and Jordan ahead of his stop in Turkey. On Monday, he’s scheduled to meet with President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi in Sharm el-Sheikh before meeting with King Abdullah in Amman on Tuesday. The officials said the purpose of his meetings in Egypt and Jordan is to coordinate their positions on key issues ahead of a joint summit with President Joe Biden in Jeddah next month that will also include Iraq’s prime minister.

The Saudi officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details of the tour, said Prince Mohammed will also discuss with officials in Turkey a number of regional and international issues, foremost of which is the Iranian nuclear file, efforts to end the war in Yemen, the repercussions of the Russian-Ukrainian war on the region and ways to strengthen bilateral relations in energy and trade.

The officials did not rule out a possible trip this summer by the crown prince to Greece and Cyprus, two nations closely allied with Saudi Arabia.

Al-Shihri reported from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.