Turkey will work to improve relations with the Gulf and clear up any “misunderstandings,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday ahead of his two-day trip to Qatar.
Erdogan will meet this week with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani as part of the seventh Qatar-Turkey Supreme Strategic Committee. Joining Erdogan on the trip to Doha are Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and the country’s Turkish intelligence chief Hakan Fidan.
"We're strengthening relations with all Gulf countries, open to dialogue to clear any misunderstandings and hoping to cement our unity with the Gulf," Erdogan told reporters before leaving for Qatar, according to TRT.
Turkey supported Qatar in its feud with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, who in June 2017 severed ties with gas-rich Qatar. The Saudi-led bloc, which has accused their neighbor of funding terrorism and growing too close to Iran and Turkey, ended its blockade on Qatar in January.
Erdogan has sought to mend ties with the Gulf countries after years of tension over issues including the civil war in Libya, Arab countries’ normalization with Israel, and Turkey’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist movements.
Last month, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nayhan traveled to Turkey in what was the highest-level Emirati visit to the country in nearly a decade. As part of that visit, Ankara and Abu Dhabi inked a series of investment accords under which the UAE agreed to invest up to $10 billion in Turkey’s economy.
Erdogan has also hinted that Turkey could eventually reinstate its ambassadors to Egypt and Israel, where relations with Ankara have soured over the toppling of Egypt’s first democratically elected president and Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
Erdogan’s trip to Qatar will overlap with a visit from Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Reuters reports that the Turkish leader wanted to meet with the Saudi royal while in Doha, but a sit-down between the two men appears unlikely. It would have been their first meeting since the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
French President Emmanuel Macron met with Prince Mohammed in the Saudi port city of Jeddah on Saturday, becoming the first major Western leader to do so since Khashoggi’s murder.