Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud in Jeddah on Thursday, marking his first visit to the country since the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
Erdogan is seeking to mend ties with Saudi Arabia amid economic challenges in his country ahead of next year’s elections.
The President was accompanied by his wife, Emine, along with several Turkish officials on a two-day official visit to the country, the Turkish presidency said in a statement. He was welcomed with an official ceremony by King Salman.
Khashoggi’s killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018 triggered a global outcry against the kingdom and its de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Turkish officials said Khashoggi, a prominent critic of bin Salman, was killed and dismembered inside the consulate in an operation that had been approved by the “highest levels” in Riyadh. The accusations strained ties between the two regional powers, leading to an unofficial Saudi boycott of Turkish goods, which has slashed Ankara’s exports to the kingdom by 90%, Reuters reported.
Last year, US intelligence assessed that the Crown Prince himself approved the operation. He has denied the allegation.
Earlier this month, a Turkish court ruled that the trial in absentia of 26 suspects accused of killing Khashoggi could be moved to Saudi Arabia, in a move that could effectively end the case.
In March, a Turkish prosecutor requested the nearly two-year-old trial be halted and transferred to Saudi Arabia because arrest warrants for the suspects could not be executed, and their statements could not be taken.