The Saudi crown prince was expected in Turkey on Wednesday for his first visit since Saudi agents killed prominent dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in 2018, sparking a deep rift between the two regional powers.
Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto leader of the oil-rich kingdom, is said to meet with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the presidential palace in Ankara in what would be a symbolic repair of the fences between two Middle Eastern heavyweights, whose rivalry in recent years has played out in conflicts from Libya and Egypt to the Persian Gulf.
Crippled by skyrocketing inflation at home, Mr Erdogan has courted regional leaders for help to bolster Turkey’s economy ahead of next year’s presidential election.
Confirming the high-level visit last week, Mr Erdogan said he hoped his one-on-one meeting with Prince Mohammed would provide an opportunity to take Turkey-Saudi Arabia relations to the next level.
The rapprochement follows similar steps by other countries to rebuild ties with Saudi Arabia, sparking global outrage over the murder and mutilation of Mr Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018.
Prince Mohammed, 36, has denied having any oversight or foreknowledge of the operation to assassinate or imprison Khashoggi. But a 2018 review by the Central Intelligence Agency concluded that it had approved the operation that killed Mr Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and outspoken critic of Saudi Arabia.
The assassination quickly severed ties between the two countries.
Turkey infuriated Saudi Arabia by immediately launching a vigorous investigation into the murder and humiliation of Prince Mohammed by informing the international news media of gruesome details of the assassination, which they slowly trickled down over time to growing outrage at the whole world. Erdogan said the order to dismember Khashoggi came from the “highest levels” of the Saudi government but avoided incriminating the prince directly.