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Erdoğan begins Gulf tour with trip to Saudi Arabia

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan arrives on Monday in Saudi Arabia during a three-country Gulf tour as he looks to attract foreign investment in his country’s ailing economy, Agence France-Presse reported.

Erdoğan is scheduled to land in the Red Sea city of Jeddah to meet with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s de facto ruler, before going to the United Arab Emirates and Qatar later this week.

“During our visits, our primary agenda will be joint investment and commercial activities with these countries in the upcoming period,” Erdoğan said before leaving İstanbul.

He said bilateral trade with Gulf countries has increased from $1.6 billion to approximately $22 billion over the past 20 years.

“With the business forums to be organized, we will look for ways to move this figure much further,” Erdoğan said.

The visit is his second to Saudi Arabia since a recent rapprochement. Ties between the two countries were strained by the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s İstanbul consulate.

Turkey angered Saudi Arabia by vigorously pursuing the case at the time, opening an investigation and briefing international media on the gory details of the killing.

But with ties on the mend, Erdoğan visited Saudi Arabia in April 2022, and Prince Mohammed went to Turkey in June of last year.

Erdoğan’s new Saudi trip comes as Turkey battles a currency devaluation and soaring inflation that has battered its economy.

The two countries will sign several accords during Erdoğan’s trip as Ankara looks to non-Western partners for financial support, a senior Saudi official told AFP on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press.

Erdoğan’s Gulf tour will be followed by a trip to northern Cyprus, which Turkey invaded and occupied in 1974, and comes after his re-election in May for another five-year term.

“Erdoğan’s visit to the Gulf after the critical elections held in Turkey itself reflects the importance of the Gulf states in the Turkish foreign policy agenda,” Sinem Cengiz, a researcher at Qatar University, told AFP.

“Growing Gulf interest in investing in diverse sectors is a boost for Turkey, which is trying to increase exports to help ease its economic problems,” said the expert on Gulf-Turkish relations.

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