Turkish President Erdogan and Saudi King discuss improving relations

Turkish President Erdogan and Saudi King Salman discussed bilateral ties and agreed to resolve the lingering differences.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed ways to strengthen ties with King Salman of Saudi Arabia in a rare phone call since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The phone call came on the eve of the G20 leaders’ summit hosted by Riyadh on Saturday and Sunday.

Erdogan and the Saudi King discussed bilateral relations and exchanged views on the G20 summit, the Turkish presidency announced on Friday.

The Turkish leader will address the summit via video link at 13:00 GMT.

“President Erdogan and King Salman have agreed to keep the channels of dialogue open in order to strengthen bilateral relations and resolve issues,” the presidency said.

Ankara and Riyadh disagree on a number of issues, including policies in the Libyan and Syrian conflicts.

People hold posters of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi near Saudi consulate in Istanbul [File: Emrah Gurel/AP]

But tensions between the two regional powers have intensified since the 2018 murder of Washington Post contributor Khashoggi at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

The case sparked an international outcry and tarnished the global reputation of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).

Khashoggi was strangled and his body cut to pieces by a 15-man Saudi squad inside the consulate, Turkish officials said. His remains have not been found.

Erdogan said the order to assassinate Khashoggi came from “the highest levels” of the Saudi government, but never directly blamed MBS.

In September, a Saudi court overturned five death sentences handed down after a closed-door trial in Saudi Arabia that ended last year, sentencing them to 20 years in prison instead.

A trial resumes on November 24 in Turkey against key Saudi officials, including those close to MBS.

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