ISTANBUL: Turkey is looking to repair relations with Saudi Arabia, Erdogan's spokesman and adviser Ibrahim Kalin said Monday.
Trade between the two countries has dropped by 98% since last year, following an unofficial boycott of Turkish goods by businesses in the Kingdom in response to what they called hostility from Ankara.
Expressing hope the boycott could be lifted, Kalin said: “We will seek ways to repair the relationship with a more positive agenda with Saudi Arabia as well.”
Kalin also said the Turkish presidency welcomed the trial in Saudi Arabia which last year jailed eight people for between seven and 20 years for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“They had a court. Trials have been held,” Kalin said. “They made a decision so we respect that decision.”
Kalin’s comments to Reuters came ahead of talks between Turkey and Egypt next week, which Ankara hopes will forge renewed cooperation between the two countries.
Relations have been strained since Egypt’s army ousted in 2013 Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi, who was close to Turkey.
Recently, however, Turkey has begun working to rebuild ties with Egypt and other Gulf states, trying to overcome differences which have left Ankara increasingly isolated in the Arab world.
Intelligence chiefs as well as foreign ministers of both countries have been in contact, and a Turkish diplomatic mission will visit Egypt in early May, Kalin said.
“Given the realities on the ground I think it's in the interests of both countries and the region to normalise relations with Egypt," he said.
In a gesture to Cairo last month, Turkey asked Egyptian opposition television channels operating on its territory to moderate criticism of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.
Egypt welcomed the move but has been publicly cautious about Turkish calls for better ties between the two countries which have also supported rival sides in Libya's conflict.
"Rapprochement with Egypt...will certainly help the security situation in Libya because we fully understand that Egypt has a long border with Libya and that may sometimes pose a security threat for Egypt," Kalin said.
He said Turkey would discuss security in Libya, where a UN-backed transitional government took over last month, with Egypt and other countries.
But despite a UN call for all foreign forces to leave the country, he indicated that Turkish military officers and allied Syrian fighters would be staying.
“We have an agreement that is still holding there with the Libyan government,” he said, refering to a 2019 accord which paved the way for decisive Turkish intervention in support of the Tripoli-based government.
* With Reuters