Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said in an interview published on Tuesday that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had asked for a meeting with Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan and that there was currently no reason not to meet with him, Reuters reported.
“Yes, he asked Erdoğan on the phone whether they could meet in Buenos Aires. Erdogan’s answer was ‘Let’s see’,” Çavuşoğlu told Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.
Erdoğan and Prince Mohammed will attend the G20 meeting in Argentina later this week. “At the moment there is no reason not to meet with the crown prince,” Çavuşoğlu said.
Saudi-Turkish relations have been strained by the killing last month of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul. After offering numerous contradictory explanations, Riyadh said Khashoggi had been killed and his body dismembered when negotiations to persuade him to return to Saudi Arabia failed.
Saudi Arabia has repeatedly said the prince had no knowledge of the killing, which Turkey says was carried out at the Saudi Consulate General by a squad of 15 Saudi agents that included a member of Prince Mohammed’s security team.
Erdoğan has said the killing was ordered at the highest level of Saudi leadership but ruled out that it had come from King Salman, putting the spotlight instead on the 33-year-old crown prince.
US President Donald Trump said last week Washington would remain a “steadfast partner” of Saudi Arabia despite saying that Prince Mohammed may have known about the plan to murder Khashoggi.
Asked if he knew for sure who in Riyadh gave the order to kill Khashoggi, Çavuşoğlu said the team would not have acted on its own but could not say anything else without proof.
Çavuşoğlu said Riyadh had offered to send identikit photos of local helpers who assisted in the cover-up. “Why identikit pictures? The Saudis know the names,” he said.
Turkey says it has recordings related to the killing that it shared with Western allies. Çavuşoğlu said he had listened to the recordings and that Khashoggi was killed within seven minutes of entering the consulate.
“It was premeditated murder,” he told the German newspaper, rather than a last resort after they failed to convince him to return to Saudi Arabia.
“It can be heard how the forensics expert instructs the others: They should listen to music while he cuts up the body. One can tell how he enjoys it.”