ANKARA – Turkey's top envoy is traveling to Saudi Arabia as Turkey seeks to mend ties with the kingdom that hit an all-time low over the 2018 killing in Istanbul of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will meet with his Saudi counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, to discuss bilateral relations and regional issues during his two-day visit, according to a Turkish Foreign Ministry statement.
The visit is the first by a high-level Turkish official since the killing of Khashoggi by Saudi agents inside the kingdom’s consulate increased tensions between the two regional powers. The killing added to tensions over Turkey’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, which is viewed by Riyadh as a terrorist group. The two countries have also been at odds over Turkey’s support for Qatar in a dispute among Gulf countries as well as over the conflict in Libya.
Cavusoglu's visit is also part of a wider effort by Turkey to normalize ties with Arab nations as it finds itself isolated internationally at a time when its economy is faltering.
Last week, a high-level Turkish delegation traveled to Cairo to improve relations with Egypt, which have been strained since the Egyptian military’s 2013 ouster of President Mohammed Morsi, an Islamist who hailed from the Muslim Brotherhood.
Khashoggi was killed on October 2, 2018, after he entered the consulate to get documents that would allow him to marry his Turkish fiancee, who was waiting outside. Turkish officials allege Khashoggi, who had written critically about Saudi Arabia’s crown prince for The Washington Post, was killed by a team of Saudi agents and then dismembered with a bone saw.
The Saudi government admitted to the murder under intense international pressure. Some suspects were later put on trial in Riyadh behind closed doors. Khashoggi’s family subsequently announced they had forgiven his killers.
Turkey repeatedly called for the extradition of the Saudi agents and last year began trying two former aides of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other Saudi citizens in absentia in Turkey.
As ties soured, Saudi Arabia imposed an informal boycott on Turkish goods and also closed down eight Turkish schools in the kingdom, Turkish state media have reported.