NOW STRATEGIC ALLIES: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attend a guard of honor after the latter’s arrival in Riyadh. (SPA)
RIYADH: GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN – March 2015 – Saudi Arabia and Turkey are embarking on a “new era” in their relations after talks between the nations’ leaders on Sunday, which included Yemen, Syria and Iran’s nuclear program, a senior diplomat said on Monday.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan led the talks, accompanied by senior officials from both sides. “The wide-ranging talks between the two leaders were very fruitful,” said Adel bin Siraj Mirdad, Saudi ambassador to Turkey. The visit “will open a new era of relations between the Kingdom and Turkey,” said Mirdad. The gathering marks a thaw in diplomatic ties between the two countries, several Saudi and Turkish officials said, but did not divulge more details.
Mirdad confirmed that the leaders discussed bilateral ties, the Middle East peace process, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Palestine, the threat of the Islamic State group and Iran’s nuclear program. “Turkey is an important country with which the Kingdom has had historic cordial relations,” said the envoy.
He said a number of “critical and dangerous issues were tackled by the two leaders very candidly” within the framework of the bilateral consultations on Sunday. The nations are crucial role players in regional peace and security initiatives, said Mirdad.
A top Turkish diplomat said that King Salman and Erdogan touched on all bilateral and regional issues during their meeting. “No separate meeting was held between Erdogan and other high-ranking Saudi officials, because all top Saudi and Turkish officials were present at the talks and at the lunch banquet,” he added.
Observers see Erdogan’s visit as an indicator of recovering relations between the two old allies. The Turkish president also attended King Abdullah’s funeral earlier this year.
The talks were attended by several members of the royal family and ministers including Crown Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, deputy premier; Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif; second deputy premier and minister of interior; Mohammed bin Salman; minister of defense; Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar; Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, National Guard minister; and Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah, deputy foreign minister.
Erdogan was accompanied by his wife Emine Erdogan, deputy prime ministers Yalcın Akdogan and Numan Kurtulmus, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, journalists and businessmen. Erdogan’s wife had a separate program in the Saudi capital. The Turkish president left for Ankara later on Sunday. http://www.arabnews.com/featured/news/712976