Turkey’s Erdogan and Saudi King Salman discuss ties over phone

Ankara wants to improve ties with Riyadh after relations were rocked by Khashoggi murder by Saudi hit squad in Istanbul.

The two leaders have held two phone conversations in recent weeks [File: Yasin Bulbul/ Turkish Presidential Press Service/AFP]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz have discussed bilateral ties in a call, the second conversation between the two leaders in less than a month.

In a brief statement late on Tuesday, Turkey’s communications directorate said the two leaders “evaluated” matters on issues affecting both countries “and steps to be taken to further the cooperation”.

Turkey is seeking to improve ties with Saudi Arabia after they were thrown into crisis by the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by a Saudi hit squad inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

Last year, Saudi businessmen endorsed an unofficial boycott of Turkish goods in response to what they called hostility from Ankara, slashing the value of trade by 98 percent.

Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin last month said that Erdogan and King Salman had “a good call” in April and that the foreign ministers of the two countries had agreed to meet.

Tuesday’s conversation came a day before a meeting between Turkish and Egyptian officials in Cairo, the latest step in Turkey’s push to mend relations with another United States-allied Arab power.

Turkey said in March it had started talks with Egypt to try to improve relations which collapsed after Egypt’s army overthrew a democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood president close to Turkey in 2013, in what Ankara said was a military coup.

Egypt’s restoration of ties with Qatar, after a four-year Gulf blockade along with the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, has also boosted efforts towards more regional diplomacy.

Cairo has not appeared to share the same level of enthusiasm for rapprochement as Turkey. “Words are not enough, they must be matched by deeds,” Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry had said in March.

“There’s a great deal of mistrust fuelled by eight years of open hostility, and so Egypt feels hesitant,” said Nael Shama, the author of a book on Egypt’s foreign policy under deposed leaders Mohamed Morsi and Hosni Mubarak.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies