Saudi crown prince to visit Turkey as part of international trip

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is planning an international trip to five countries including Turkey where he will discuss regional and international issues and sign agreements on energy and trade, Reuters reported on Monday, citing four sources familiar with the plans.

The prince will also visit Cyprus, Greece, Jordan and Egypt in what would be his first tour outside the region since the 2018 murder of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the report.

Saudi officials are still discussing the exact dates with the countries the crown prince is visiting, Reuters quoted the sources as saying, with two of them adding that the trip could happen as soon as early June.

Saudi agents killed and dismembered 59-year-old Khashoggi, an insider turned critic, in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate in October 2018 in an act that sparked a furor in the West and tainted Prince Mohammed’s image as a reformist pushing to open up the Gulf Arab state, the world’s top oil exporter and largest Arab economy. The journalist’s remains have never been found.

However, some Western leaders have since visited Riyadh, including France’s president and Greece’s prime minister last year as well as the president of Cyprus earlier this year.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also visited the kingdom last month in the first high-level trip in years after intense efforts to repair ties that included dropping a Turkish trial over the killing of Khashoggi.

A Turkish court in April confirmed a halt of the trial in absentia of 26 suspects linked to the murder of Khashoggi and its transfer to Riyadh. The decision, which came at a time when Turkey was desperate for investment to help pull it out of an economic crisis, infuriated Turkey’s opposition politicians, human rights campaigners and Khashoggi’s widow Hatice Cengiz, who vowed to appeal it in a higher court.

One of the sources, a senior Turkish official, told Reuters that Prince Mohammed had accepted Erdoğan’s invitation to visit and that both sides were working to schedule it.

“Topics to be discussed are bilateral trade, regional developments, the possible [currency] swap deal and other investment and energy projects,” the official said.

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