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Turkey FM in Saudi Arabia for talks to mend ties, end boycott

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Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday and was due to hold talks in the kingdom after years of tensions between the two regional powers. Turkish support for Qatar in a dispute with its Gulf neighbours and over President Tayyip Erdogan’s backing of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is banned in Saudi Arabia, have led to tensions.

Turkish officials had said Cavusoglu’s visit could include talks on possible sales of Turkish drones to Saudi Arabia, which they said Riyadh had requested. The current violent clashes in Jerusalem may also overshadow the bilateral talks.

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“In Saudi Arabia to discuss bilateral relations and important regional issues, especially the attacks at the Al Aqsa Mosque and the oppression against the Palestinian people,” Cavusoglu wrote on Twitter upon his arrival in Saudi Arabia.

Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, is also visiting Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah on Monday evening and will meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss bilateral ties and regional and international matters of common interest.

Cavusoglu’s trip was initially intended to focus on mending bilateral ties that soured in 2018.

An unofficial Saudi trade boycott which slashed the value of Turkish imports by 98 percent. Saudi Arabia is also closing eight Turkish schools in the kingdom, Anadolu reported last month.

Cavusoglu’s two-day visit follows Turkey’s talks last week with Egypt, another US-allied regional power, also aimed at repairing troubled relations.

A senior Turkish official said that the trade embargo and the conflicts in Syria and Libya would be discussed with the Saudis.

Read more: Egypt, Turkey say they held in-depth talks on bilateral, regional issues in Cairo