Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and Prince Mohammed Bin Salman review a military honour guard during a welcome ceremony in Ankara on Wednesday. AP
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman arrived in Turkey for the first time in years on Wednesday for talks with President Tayyip Erdogan aimed at fully normalising ties. Erdogan said talks with Prince Mohammed would focus on advancing Turkish-Saudi relations to a "much higher degree.”
The Saudi Crown Prince’s convoy arrived at the presidential palace complex escorted by Turkish mounted honour guards. 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 are no public statements scheduled after their talks.
In a joint statement following the talks between Prince Mohammed and Erdogan, the two countries said they discussed improving relations and investment in sectors from energy to defence among others.
In April, Erdogan held one-on-one talks with Prince Mohammed in Saudi Arabia after a months-long drive to mend relations between the regional powers. Erdogan said last week he and Prince Mohammed would discuss "to what much higher level" they can take ties during talks in Ankara.
The visit is expected to bring "a full normalisation and a restoration of the pre-crisis period," a senior Turkish official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. "A new era will begin."
Tayyip Erdogan welcomes Prince Mohammed during an official ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Ankara. AFP
The Turkish official said the two countries had lifted restrictions on trade, flights and the screening of TV series, with mutual negative media coverage also halted. Agreements on energy, economy and security would be signed during the visit, while a plan was also in the works for Saudi funds to enter capital markets in Turkey, the official said.
However, he said negotiations on a possible currency swap line — which could help restore Turkey's diminished foreign reserves — were not moving "as fast as desired" and will be discussed privately between Erdogan and Prince Mohammed.
The visit also comes as Turkey's economy is badly strained by a slumping lira and inflation soaring beyond 70%. Saudi funds and foreign currency could help Erdogan shore up support ahead of elections by June 2023, analysts say.
King Abdullah II and his son Crown Prince Hussein (R) bid Prince Mohammed farewell during a departure ceremony in Amman. AFP
The leaders will also discuss the possible sale of Turkish armed drones to Riyadh, the person added. Earlier on Wednesday, Prince Mohammed left Jordan after a visit to the country during which he met with King Abdullah II.
On his departure, King Abdullah said that Prince Mohammed had honoured Jordan with his visit and that Saudi Arabia will remain a support to the Arab and Muslim world. On Tuesday, King Abdullah awarded the crown prince with the Order of Al Hussein Bin Ali. Prince Mohammed's regional tour started in Egypt on Monday.