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Turkish foreign minister plans Saudi visit next week: source

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Turkey’s foreign minister plans to visit Saudi Arabia next week, his first such trip since journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi Consulate General in İstanbul, an official told AFP on Thursday.

The exact dates have not yet been set for Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu’s first official visit to the oil-rich kingdom since 2017, said the official, who requested anonymity.

The trip comes as Turkey tries to repair fences with its regional rivals, including Egypt, where Çavuşoğlu’s deputy, Sedat Önal, began a two-day visit on Wednesday.

Ankara’s relations with Riyadh deteriorated sharply after the October 2018 murder of Khashoggi, 59, a Saudi insider-turned-critic who wrote columns for The Washington Post.

Khashoggi was dismembered inside the kingdom’s consulate in İstanbul after walking into the diplomatic compound to get documents for his wedding to Turkish fiancée Hatice Cengiz.

His death and the subsequent disappearance of his body have tarnished Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s image and plunged Riyadh into a diplomatic crisis.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said at the time that the order to kill Khashoggi had come from senior Saudi officials.

Turkey has also put on trial in absentia two close former aides of Prince Mohammed, along with 24 other suspects.

But Turkey has been taking steps to fix its relations with Saudi Arabia, which remains an important trading partner.

On Tuesday Erdoğan spoke by phone with Saudi King Salman, although no details of those talks were released.

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