Saudi crown prince, Erdogan meet to normalize ties

STORY: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived in Turkey for the first time in years on Wednesday for talks with President Tayyip Erdogan, marking a turnaround in their relations.

The visit was aimed at fully normalizing ties between Ankara and Riyadh, that were ruptured after a Saudi hit squad killed and dismembered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul.

Erdogan at the time blamed the killing on the "highest levels" of the Saudi government.

Prince Mohammed denies any involvement in the murder.

In April, the pair held one-on-one talks in Saudi Arabia after a months-long drive to mend relations.

Ankara stopped all criticism and halted its murder trial in April, transferring the case to Riyadh in a move condemned by human rights groups.

The crown prince has been making effort to rehabilitate his image beyond the Gulf, leveraging Saudi Arabia's vast wealth and oil production capacity to lure in Western leaders and private business partners.

The visit also comes as Turkey's economy is badly strained by a slumping lira and inflation soaring beyond 70%.

Analysts say Saudi funds and foreign currency could help Erdogan shore up support ahead of elections by June 2023.

Erdogan welcomed Prince Mohammed at the presidential palace in Ankara with a ceremony and the two shook hands and embraced, before being met by members of the Turkish cabinet.

There were however no public statements scheduled for after their talks.

Erdogan said last week he and Riyadh's de facto leader would discuss "to what much higher level" they can take ties during talks in Ankara.

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