Turkish FM ends Gulf tour without visiting Saudi Arabia

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (2nd L) and Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekçi (L) meet with Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani (R) in Doha, Qatar on June 14, 2017. Cem Ozdel / Anadolu Agency

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has returned from a visit to several Gulf countries without stopping in Saudi Arabia although he said diplomats were working on the possibility of a visit to Riyadh, the Hürriyet daily reported on Thursday.

Accompanied by Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci, Çavuşoğlu was expected to visit Saudi Arabia after Qatar and Kuwait, but he instead returned to Turkey, where he was to meet with his Cuban counterpart, Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla.

The Turkish minister is expected to return to the Gulf region on Friday for further talks.
Speaking during a press conference with the Burundi foreign minister in Ankara on Tuesday, Çavuşoğlu said he might visit Saudi Arabia as well and that the Turkish side was waiting for the Saudis to respond.

On Wednesday, Çavuşoğlu and Zeybekçi met with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani and Economy and Trade Minister Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim al-Thani.

Çavuşoğlu said in Qatar that he would meet with Saudi officials on June 16 in Mecca.

On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that Saudi King Salman – the eldest statesman in the Gulf – must show leadership and solve a crisis with Qatar that erupted last week after several countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia, severed ties with Doha over its support for terrorist groups.

Criticizing the Gulf countries’ isolation of Qatar by saying it is “inhumane and against Islamic values,” Erdoğan said, “It’s as if a death penalty decision has been imposed on Qatar.”

A delegation consisting of three members of the Turkish military was dispatched to Qatar on Tuesday to make preparations for troop deployment to the country, which is now in a diplomatic crisis with other Gulf states.

On June 7, the Turkish Parliament approved legislation allowing its troops to be deployed to a Turkish military base in .

The diplomatic crisis erupted between Qatar and other Gulf countries after Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed relations with Doha claiming Qatar embraces multiple terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at disrupting stability in the region, including the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and al-Qaeda, and constantly promotes the messages and schemes of these groups through their media.

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