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Turkey, Saudi share ‘identical’ interests in the region

February 15, 2017 at 4:36 pm

Image of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan [Presidency of Turkey / Yasin Bülbül/Anadolu Agency]

Ties between Saudi Arabia and Turkey are set to scale new heights as their interests align on key regional issues following talks between King Salman and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday.

The Turkish Premier arrived in Riyadh on Monday, on an official visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The summit at Al-Yamamah Palace, Riyadh, focused on a number of issues including security and commercial ties.

The visit ahead of the UN-sponsored Syria peace talks later this month, have added significance. Both Turkey and Saudi have supported Syrian opposition forces while Turkey has been instrumental in bringing about a ceasefire.

In January, Turkey, along with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s allies Russia and Iran, sponsored talks in Kazakhstan between Syrian opposition groups and government officials.

The two leaders discussed key regional issues like Syria, Yemen, Libya and Iran as well as security cooperation and terrorism.

Syria was a focal point for Erdogan during his meetings with top Saudi officials. On Monday in Manama, Bahrain, Erdogan called for a “safe zone” in northern Syria.

The positions of Saudi Arabia and Turkey are “absolutely identical” on Syria, Adel Al-Jubeir, Saudi foreign minister, said last week in Ankara, after the joint council meeting.

Both Riyadh and Ankara are hoping for better relations with Washington under President Donald Trump.

For Turkey, ties were strained under former US President Barack Obama because of Washington’s support for Syrian Kurdish militias, which Ankara views as “terrorist” groups.

Saudi Arabia felt Obama was reluctant to get involved in the civil war in Syria and was tilting towards its Shia-dominated regional rival Iran.