Saudi prince to visit Turkey, in first since murder of journalist Khashoggi

ISTANBUL, Turkey (AFP) — Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will visit Turkey next week, a Turkish official said Friday, as Ankara and Riyadh heal a bitter rift following the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul.

It is Prince Mohammed’s first visit to Turkey since the brutal killing of Saudi insider-turned-critic Khashoggi inside the kingdom’s consulate, which shocked the world and dealt a heavy blow to ties between the regional rivals.

The kingdom’s de facto ruler is expected to visit the capital Ankara on June 22 but details of the trip will be announced “over the weekend,” a senior Turkish official told AFP.

The two countries will sign several agreements during his trip as Turkey looks to non-Western partners for financial support as soaring inflation bites.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had already paid his visit in late April to Saudi Arabia since the murder, where he met the prince before traveling to Mecca.

Saudi agents killed and dismembered Khashoggi, who wrote for the Washington Post, in October 2018. His remains have never been found.

Illustrative: Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks during a press conference in Manama, Bahrain on Dec. 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File)

Turkey angered Saudi Arabia by vigorously pursuing the case at the time, opening an investigation and briefing international media about the lurid details of the murder.

Erdogan previously said the “highest levels” of the Saudi government ordered the killing, although he has never blamed the crown prince directly.

But with ties on the mend, an Istanbul court halted the trial in absentia of 26 Saudi suspects linked to Khashoggi’s death, transferring the case to Riyadh in April.

Turkey already had strained relations with Saudi Arabia because of its support to Qatar during the 2017 Riyadh-led blockade on the Gulf state but relations were frozen for more than three years after Khashoggi’s killing.

Saudi Arabia responded at the time with an unofficial boycott of Turkish imports, putting pressure on Turkey’s economy.

Turkish exporters complained their goods were stuck at Saudi customs for longer than was necessary.

Illustrative: Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, meets with Saudi King Salman, right, prior to journalist Khashoggi’s murder, July 23, 2017. (Presidency Press Service/Pool Photo via AP)

Now with inflation reaching 73.5 percent in May and a cost-of-living crisis a year before a presidential election, Erdogan needs backing from Gulf countries, experts say.

“Turkey’s main concern would be getting Saudi funding to resupply central bank coffers that are dangerously low,” Asli Aydintasbas, a fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, told AFP.

The Turkish lira lost 44 percent of its value against the dollar in 2021, while the central bank has pumped billions of dollars to prop up the currency.

In the past 18 months, Turkey has also sought to repair relations with powerful countries in the region like Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Illustrative: A garbage collector pulls a cart in Ankara, Turkey, Thursday, May 5, 2022. Inflation in Turkey soared to nearly 70% in April, official data showed Thursday, as skyrocketing prices eat away at earnings and put even basic necessities out of reach for many households. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

For the Saudi crown prince, the pariah status in the West after Khashoggi appears to be a thing of the past with US President Joe Biden heading to the Middle East next month and an expected stop in Saudi Arabia where the two men will meet.

French President Emmanuel Macron had already met Prince Mohammed in December during a visit to the kingdom.


It’s not (only) about you.

Supporting The Times of Israel isn’t a transaction for an online service, like subscribing to Netflix. The ToI Community is for people like you who care about a common good: ensuring that balanced, responsible coverage of Israel continues to be available to millions across the world, for free.

Sure, we’ll remove all ads from your page and you’ll gain access to some amazing Community-only content. But your support gives you something more profound than that: the pride of joining something that really matters


Join the Times of Israel Community


Join our Community

Already a member? Sign in to stop seeing this


You’re a dedicated reader

That’s why we started the Times of Israel ten years ago – to provide discerning readers like you with must-read coverage of Israel and the Jewish world.

So now we have a request. Unlike other news outlets, we haven’t put up a paywall. But as the journalism we do is costly, we invite readers for whom The Times of Israel has become important to help support our work by joining The Times of Israel Community.

For as little as $6 a month you can help support our quality journalism while enjoying The Times of Israel AD-FREE, as well as accessing exclusive content available only to Times of Israel Community members.

Thank you,
David Horovitz, Founding Editor of The Times of Israel


Join Our Community


Join Our Community

Already a member? Sign in to stop seeing this

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *