Erdogan discusses regional situation with King Salman

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Says prolonging Gulf crisis ‘not in anyone’s interest’
Jeddah/Istanbul

King Salman and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held talks in Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah on Sunday. The talks addressed bilateral relations as well as the developments in the region in addition to the efforts being exerted to counter terrorism. The meeting was attended by a number of Saudi cabinet members and the ambassador to Turkey.
Erdogan is scheduled to fly to Kuwait later Sunday before heading to Qatar on Monday for his first face-to-face talks with Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani since the crisis began.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain last month cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and issued 13 wide-ranging demands to lift the embargo, including the closure of a Turkish military base in the emirate.
Erdogan also met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Regarding Erdogan’s visit to the Kingdom, Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said: “Turkey has adopted a constructive role since the onset of the Qatar crisis, and called for negotiations toward a resolution through dialogue.”
Kalin added: “Erdogan and the leaders of the Gulf will also discuss bilateral relations and other regional issues such as Iraq, Syria, terrorism, Palestine and Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Meanwhile, Erdogan before leaving Istanbul airport on the two-day trip to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and then Qatar said prolonging the crisis in the Gulf sparked by the isolation of Qatar is not in the interest of anyone, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday as he embarked on a key visit to the region.
“No-one has any interest in prolonging this crisis any more,” said Erdogan.
He accused “enemies” of seeking to “fire up tensions between brothers” in the region.
On June 5, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt cut ties with Qatar accusing it of backing extremism and fostering ties with their Shiite rival Iran. Doha denies the claim and has been strongly backed by Ankara throughout the standoff.
The crisis with Qatar has put Turkey in a delicate position and Erdogan has repeatedly said he wants to see the end of the dispute as soon as possible.
Over the last years, Qatar has emerged as Turkey’s number one ally in the Middle East, with Ankara and Doha closely coordinating their positions on a number of issues including the Syria conflict where both are staunch foes of President Bashar al-Assad.
Crucially, Turkey is in the throes of setting up a military base in Qatar, its only such outpost in the region. It has sped up the process since the crisis began and reportedly now has 150 troops at the base.
“From the first moments of the Qatar crisis, we have been on the side of peace, stability, solidarity and dialogue,” said Erdogan.
But Turkey, which is also going through a turbulent time with the European Union and the United States, also does not want to wreck its own relations with regional kingpin Saudi Arabia.
“As the elder statesman in the Gulf region, Saudi Arabia has a big role to play in solving the crisis,” said Erdogan, with explicitly criticising the kingdom.
Erdogan said he supported the mediation efforts of Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, a possible indication Ankara sees Kuwait as the key to solving the crisis.
Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani said Friday he was ready for talks to resolve the crisis so long as the emirate’s sovereignty is respected.—Agencies

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